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March 11, 2009
Columbine anniversary to be commemorated at ENDOW luncheon
By John Gleason
Ten years ago, the unthinkable happened. On the morning of April 20, 1999, two youths carried out a massacre at Columbine High School in unincorporated Jefferson County.
Armed with rifles and handguns, students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured more than 20 others before committing suicide. The massacre provoked debate regarding gun control and violence in youths and in video games, music and movies.
That day Kari Goerke, chief nursing officer at Swedish Medical Center, was on duty at the hospital as director of the operating room. Goerke will talk about her experiences with the Columbine tragedy when she addresses the March 18 ENDOW Catholic Professional Women’s Luncheon.
“Swedish Medical Center is a Level One trauma center,” Goerke said. “That means we have resources and people in place to handle anything that can occur with trauma. Trauma surgeons, anesthesiologists and neurosurgeons are all available at a moment’s notice.”
Following news of the attack at the high school, Goerke said the emergency staff prepared to receive patients, having no idea how many injured would be brought in or the extent of their injuries. In the end, four of the injured were brought to Swedish for treatment.
Goerke said those hours in the operating room will always be in the forefront of her mind.
“My healing came from the only possible recourse—prayer,” she said.
Terry Polakovic, ENDOW founder and executive director, said Goerke’s talk will be one of the most compelling people will hear.
“Kari is so loving, so tender, and kind,” Polakovic said. “When faced with such tragedy, she was able to understand the Christian meaning of human suffering, and that is one of many her gifts as a Catholic woman in the field of health care. She truly is role model for Catholic women.”
The penitential season of Lent reminds us of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, Polakovic said. It causes us to reflect on our own suffering and that of others.
“We can’t always do something to alleviate the sufferings of others, but we can accompany them,” Polakovic said. “That’s what Kari did during Columbine—what she does every day.
“In a sense,” she added, “Kari is like Veronica, wiping the forehead of those who suffer, radiating hope amid terrible circumstances. During the liturgical season of Lent, I think it’s fitting to host a speaker such as Kari, whose testimony reminds us that there is always hope throughout our difficult times.”
The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 18 at a location in Cherry Creek. For information and directions, call the ENDOW office at 303-715-3224.