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Name Date Entry
Morgan Flatt 06/12/2006

The steps dance recital this year was great! We were sad, Even though we new you were watching us from above. A lot of people were very touched after we perfomed the Tribute number, and so was I. Thank you for being so wonderful while you still could, here on Earth.

Giana Greco and Kelsey Zavadovics 6/25/06

Even though Kathryn is gone physically she will always remain in our hearts and her dancing will always be remembered. When she was dancing on stage she would always be smiling and having a great time. Kathryn Bender always had a smile on her face she cared about each and everyone of her students. We had a great time with Elizabeth Bender our ballet teacher. We knew that it was going to be a great year when Kathryn was our teacher, but we didn't get to enjoy Kathryn long enough. We will all miss you Kathryn Mary Bender.

Our best wishes to the Bender family.

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
~Giana Greco and Kelsey Zavadovics

Kelsey Zavadovics 6/28/06

Kathryn was a very talented 17 year old girl. It breaks our hearts to see her go.......

We will all miss you dearly Kathryn Mary Bender

Sarah Fitch 7/14/06 Wow, I just watched the video clip of the choir concert. Those girls did such an amazing job with that song, Megan especially. When I heard it all I could think about was the 8th grade talent show where Kathryn did a ballet solo to that song. She was such a great dancer and whenever I hear that song I get the image of her up on the stage at WJHS doing what she loved most.
Rebecca Rosenberg 8/1/06

All the summer workshops at Steps have come to an end and not one of the Dance Exploration workshops ended up going due to lack of enrollment. I don't know how I would have completed any of them because Kathryn was the one who kept me calm through those workshops last summer when we taught together and were surrounded by screaming children. She had the ability stay cheerful even through those frustrating times. I am so thankful she was there. It's another testament to Kathryn's strong character that she had all her life. She would have been an incredible teacher. She already impacted her ballet students from this past year so much within a matter of a few months- and I already learned lessons from her on how to teach my classes. I try to keep the same composure as Kathryn every time I teach.

I miss you, Kathryn.

Bender Family 8/12/06

To all of Kathryn's friends heading off to college or starting your career,

We would like to wish all of you the very best on this exciting journey in your life. We know all the anxiety and excitement that Kathryn would be feeling right now and know all of you are feeling the same thing. You are taking a big and important step towards reaching your dreams. Reach for the stars for you are all wonderful! We know this for a fact because we saw how you responded to losing Kathryn this past November and throughout the rest of the year. Your Commencement Ceremony was a tribute to you as well as Kathryn. We were so proud to be a part of your special night.

We believe that you have someone special watching over you. You touched her life just like she touched yours. She will be with you on your future journeys. For a true friend is a friend forever.

You have a special place in our hearts, 
Doris, Elizabeth and Nicholas

Gabe Anderson 8/19/06

I was never blessed to be able to meet Kathryn. I was told stories of her wonderful personality and how everyone loved to be around her. The dedication of her older sister, brother and family is a testament on the impact she left on people's lives. The numerous fundraisers and book signings will offer many children the opportunity to be involed in the beautiful world of the dancing arts. Seeing the way Kathryn's memory is pulling people together and strengthening those who knew and loved her, has helped me with my own loss of a close friend in Iraq. Thank You for allowing me just a small chance to listen to the stories and memories of Kathryn.

SGT Gabriel Anderson 
US Army

Elizabeth Bender 8/31/06

I haven't submitted a guestbook entry yet because I never quite knew what I would say, but tonight as I sit hear re-reading all of the past entries, I cry, realizing how many stories have been shared and how many wonderful memories I have to share as well. These are only very few special moments I shared with my little sister, but I remember each of them as if they were yesterday.

* I remember sharing a room with you and when we were younger we would play our bed games. Crazy little games that I would make up to make you laugh. (You know exactly what I'm talking about Kat). 
* Singing you to sleep with the "I love you" song or "the song that never ends" from lamb-chop. 
* We can't forget the "listen to the music" dream and the story of me forgetting how to spell the number three! 
* When I wanted to read at night, you always complained because I turned on the light while you were trying to sleep. I eventually became a pro at sneaking in and out of a dark, quiet room while you were sleeping and not wake you up. 
* Standing next to each other looking in the mirror, then at each other, saying we didn't see how we even remotely looked alike. 
* Cooking randomly in the middle of the night whether it was mac-n-cheese, cookies or your wonderful brownies you made with the Sam's Club mix! 
* Nicholas and I purposely making you laugh at the dinner table while you were drinking and you spitting milk out of your mouth all over the place. This happened on more than one occasion. 
* Starting Monopoly games as late as 2am after I flew home from ASU. You just wanted to do whatever I wanted so you could spend time with me...I love you. 
* Swimming in Auntie's pool belting out our infamous songs from Sound of Music and Lion King. Let's not forget when Christine was in town and all of us were outside in the pool singing Found A Peanut and There Were Three Jolly Fishermen. 
* When you came down to U of I with me for that week last summer with Casey, our puppy. We went to Murphy's and I got you to drink a few adult beverages while teaching you drinking card games. 
* Speaking of drinking...when you called me many of times in the morning hours and left me quite funny voicemails about how I better not be at the bar's yet because it was only 10am! 
* Endless conversations on the phone and at the end of our hours of talking, not knowing what we talked about at all. 
* The penché incident in ballet class..."Sorry girl, they still think it was you!"
* The brown poop costume with all those sparkles that stuck on our bathroom floor for months! A few days before you were gone, I remember you standing in front of the mirror trying on that costume for me and saying with all seriousness, "I look like a big turd." I laughed hysterically!

The last time I saw you, Kathryn, I was getting out of bed and you were still sleeping, peaceful and beautiful...oh so peaceful and beautiful.

You were my best friend and you always will be. No one can take your place. One of the things that hurts me the most, is the fact that not only will I be missing my dad at my wedding, but my maid of honor now too. But the fact is that I know that you will both be there with me, not only then, but for every special moment for the rest of my life.

Thank you Lord, for blessing me with a sister who was an angel. Although I was the older sister, I learned more from her in 17 years than anyone could have learned in a lifetime. She taught me how to be a better person, to be more like her. 

This I promise you Kathryn: I will think of you and miss you everyday and I will live my life sharing happiness and smiles just like you have taught me. My only hope is that I will be able to touch half as many lives in my whole lifetime as you did in 17 years.

How do I possibly say goodbye forever to someone who is not only a sister, but a best friend? I have decided that saying goodbye forever is not an option, so I'll say goodbye for now; only with knowing that you are not really gone, but closer to me than ever before.

I love you.

Nicholas Bender 9/8/06

One year ago this weekend, Naperville North was performing the show Angels Fall. Kathryn was one of two girls in the show and had a major impact on the success of the production.

I would sometimes pick Kathryn up from rehearsals. This is how just about everyone of those rides went: I'd pick her up, she'd get in the front seat, I'd say "hey," she'd say "hey," and we wouldn't say anything else to each other the rest of the ride home. I guess this was just the big brother-little sister relationship we had. Now, everytime I'm alone in my car and I pass North on my way home...I look at the empty passenger's seat next to me and still say "hey."

I remember when Kathryn found out that the show would be adjudicated to go down state. She was worried but excited. I remember one day that I was reading lines with her. We were just sitting in our living room working on memorizing her first page, when I decided to help her come up with some character choices. I had her walking around our living room trying to find out how she thought her character would walk. I had her thinking about where her character was coming from and what she wanted. She gave me a couple 'this is stupid' looks, and I would just say to her, "How good do you want to be?" We'd smile at each other and she'd start practicing again. When my own acting exercises and experiences feel stupid or difficult, I can just imagine her asking me, in her sarcastic tone, "How good do you want to be?"

She had one scene in which she had to really yell at her husband in the show. And since Kathryn never yelled at anyone, she was having a hard time with that scene. Once again, I was reading those lines over and over with her. I remember reading them and trying to give her the motivation to yell at me. I made her stand up on the other side of the room and yell them at me. She made a huge step in the right direction in our living room that day and on stage it worked beautifully.

Before shows I taught her a breathing excercise I had learned to help control her nerves. And of course, following my tradition, eating a cheeseburger before every show helped too.

The run of the show was awesome and even though I was probably her toughest critic, she impressed me and I was so proud of her.

The show was chosen to perform at the all-state convention in January and the cast performed the show in her honor.

Everyone that ever knew Kathryn, now knows that angels do fall. One fell to us on April 15th, 1988, rose up on November 20th, 2005 and will live on forever in the memories of those she touched.

Kristin Malley 9/11/06

Unfortunatly, I didn't know Kathryn well. She was always "Nick Benders little sister" to me. Looking at this site and remembering her, it was always her smile on stage in the musicals that come to mind. She always lit up the stage with her singing and dancing, how so many of us actors tried to do. It was simple for her.

Mr. Burghardt called me personally when Kathryn passed away, as all of us "Laramie" kids are connected through him. He had so many beautiful and kind things to say. Of her talent, her love for life, and her vivaciousness. Maybe two weeks before he called, my mom was in a near-fatal car accident. It shook me so hard. When I found out just days later that Kathryn was gone, it broke my heart to think that my mom was still with me when the Bender's had lost their little girl. I still connect the two incidents in my heart and when I pray to God thanking him for saving my mom, I also pray for him to watch over Kathryn.

I saw Nick on Saturday out here in LA. The first time in probably three years. All day I tried to muster up the courage to talk to him about it. But just couldn't. I also didn't have the heart to give him the card I bought and wrote but never sent.

To the whole Nick Bender family, I am so sorry for your loss. Kathryn was a shining star and will live in all of our hearts forever!