Kathleen Button has risen above tragedy, dedicating her life to charity work and helping children. Her goodwill is done in memory of her daughter and grandson, who both died of asthma attacks in 1992. While she will always mourn and miss them, she uses her compassion for others as a way to celebrate their lives.
The Luzerne Foundation, an organization that supports donors with their charitable giving, recently chose Kate as recipient of the Mary Bevevino Community Award. The award is the foundation’s highest tribute.
From her work with Camp AsthmaCadabra, a summer camp and safe haven especially for asthmatic children, to her volunteerism at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA, Kate works tirelessly to help others.
Kate grinned as she related how touched she was when she was told she’d been selected for the award. “I was speechless,” she said.
In the Luzerne Foundation’s yearly newsletter, Sister Miriam Stadulis is quoted, “When you meet Kate Button, you know you have met an unassuming angel who quietly reaches out to help others in her community. Her love and concern extend far beyond children living in poverty or those afflicted with asthma. I have witnessed her as a beacon of love and hope to many.”
Kate described receiving the award at the foundation’s annual meeting at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre. She’d prepared a speech on index cards, she said, but they had fallen out of her pocket and were lost.
“I looked at my granddaughter and said, ‘Oh no!’ I had to wing it,” she said. By winging it, she spoke from the heart about her camp and other endeavors done in memory of her daughter and grandson.
Kathleen’s daughter, Lorraine Button Tracy, died of asthma at the age of 40. Lorraine was on a vacation in Paris when she had an allergic reaction to horses, which triggered a fatal asthma attack.
“She didn’t have her medicine with her,” Kate recalled, becoming emotional. The walls of Kate’s home are covered with pictures of family. She pointed to photographs of Lorraine, a smiling, attractive blonde in the prime of her life.
Many other pictures were of Lorraine’s 10-year-old son Max, a little boy with a bright smile, also taken too soon. He died of the same illness 11 months after his mother.
Kate explained that Max’s father had taken him and his brother to a restaurant and staff there assured them that the food served contained no milk products, as Max was allergic to milk. Max ingested something with milk anyway, triggering an asthma attack; he died in his father’s arms.
From the devastating deaths of his wife and child, Kate’s son-in-law, Michael Tracy, was inspired to