New Jersey Ag News
Farm family reeling after sudden death of teenager
By JANE PRIMERANO
READINGTON (Jan. 15, 2016) — Schaefer Farms has a popular farmstand and is a destination for parents of little children looking to sit on Santa’s lap without the chaos of a mall.
The Schaefer family is well-loved in the Readington community as well. So it came as a shock to the entire area when Katherine Cassidy Schaefer, 18, died after a severe asthma attack on Dec. 30.
Kaycee, as she was known, was a senior at Hunterdon Polytech studying in the animal science program and doing an internship as a veterinary technician with Dr. Maryann Milfor at Paw Prints Veterinary Hospital in Ringoes.
She aspired to be a veterinarian, family friend and Schaefer Farms employee Renee Bellion said.
Bellion said Kaycee had a lifelong allergy to milk products but was very aware of foods that could be harmful and was extremely careful.
She said Kaycee and a boy went to a fast food restaurant for sandwiches of a kind they had eaten in the past.
She said normally if Kaycee had a reaction it would be immediate, but this time it was about 40 minutes later when she felt the tingling sensation that she knew preceded an allergic reaction. She reached for her inhaler and her friend went for some Benedryl, and he quickly called 911.
She was taken to Hunterdon Medical Center and a Medivac helicopter was summoned to take her to Lehigh Valley Hospital but inclement weather prevented the aircraft from flying.
Bellion said hospital personnel worked on her for a couple of hours.
Bellion gave Ms. Schaeffer riding lessons when she was a child.
“She loved horses, she loved cats,” Bellion said.
Ms. Schaeffer volunteered at Tabby’s Place, a cat rescue in Ringoes. She also loved the ducks and goats and other animals on the farm.
She also loved art. Bellion said she drew many of the scary scenes for Fright Fest, a Halloween event on the farm.
At the event, Ms. Schaeffer walked on stilts as a scary character. She also did make-up for other people who worked the fest.
Bellion listed her other interests, from kickboxing to beekeeping, and reminisced about the big Dodge truck the 5-foot-1 Kaycee enjoyed driving.
Ms. Schaeffer’s cousin, Nick DeNapoli, started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $15,000 toward her medical and funeral expenses.
By Jan. 6, the day of her memorial service at the Readington Reformed Church, there was about $20,000 collected in the fund, Bellion said.
She also said Ms. Schaeffer kept on giving. As soon as she got her drivers’ license, she checked off the organ donation box and her wish was granted by the doctors at HMC.