FRANKLIN - After a long battle with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, Brittany Norris of Franklin died on March 28 at age 19.
Though afflicted with a life-threatening disease, Norris "touched so many lives with her amazing smile, courage, determination, and kind heart," her mother, Alanna Koehler, said this week.
A swimmer on the Franklin's swim team while she was in high school, Norris was the subject of Franklin Now's "Sink or Swim" series, documenting her courageous battle against the disease.
Throughout her battle, Norris had decided to "keep swimming." She took online classes while in the hospital and continued pursuing her dream career: a nurse.
"She kept up with her school work all the way, up 'til the end," said Koehler, adding that Norris had stopped in to take a test the Thursday before being admitted into the hospital for the last time.
In addition to pursuing her education, Norris had also taken on the task of training her dog, Raven, to become a therapy dog. Norris had adopted Raven as a puppy from a humane society last August and wanted to train her so she could take her to the hospital to visit the kids there, since she had enjoyed that so much herself.
Now, her mom and sisters, Angela and Katie, will continue that task.
Brittany's mom will also set up "Brittany's Hope Foundation."
Though Koehler is still setting up some of the final details, the foundation will eventually become a non-profit that provides older patients at the children's hospital with Christmas and birthday gifts.
Even though the hospital tends to have plenty of Christmas gifts of Tonka trucks and Barbies, Koehler said, they often receive nothing suited for older patients, even though there are several patients who are not technically children at the children's hospital. In Norris' case, she stayed there because Ewig sarcoma is considered a form of children's cancer.
In lieu of flowers, Norris' family is asking that donations be made to Brittany's Hope Foundation.
A service honoring Norris' life will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 11 at Hales Corners Lutheran Church, 12300 W. Janesville Rd. Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Food and fellowship will follow the service.
Update: Since original publication, Koehler has created a fundraiser on YouCaring, a crowdfunding website. To donate, visit YouCaring.com/brittanyshope-791535.