Chris Barthel, of Cronulla, was as selfless in death as she was in life.
Widowed with a young child when she was just 22, she devoted her life to her daughter Leah and to her pupils at Our Lady Star of the Sea Primary School, Miranda, where she was a teacher for 38 years.
When Mrs Barthel, as she was known at school, died suddenly in 2011 after suffering a brain aneurysm, she kept on giving.
Her longstanding wish to donate her organs gave three people a second chance of life and spared their families heartache.
On August 5, The Butterfly Ball will honour a woman who never stopped giving.
Many former pupils of the much-loved teacher will attend the function at Doltone House, Sylvania Waters, at which funds will be raised to assist recipients awaiting transplants, and their families.
Leah Barthel, who is organising the ball, which takes place during Donate Life week, hopes it will become an annual event.
“Mum was about giving; she was a very generous person,” she said.
”When I was two, my father was killed in a car accident, and Mum raised me by herself.
“She had started teaching at Star of the Sea the year before Dad died, so she was able to continue teaching and I went to school there, as did my two children.”
Ms Barthel said she was about 10 when her mother started “having a chat” about organ donation.
“The memory of Dad’s death spurred her on something fierce,” she said.
“She showed me her driver’s licence and said, “See this box I tick, if anything happens to me, remember it’s not me, it’s just my body’.
“Mum said, ‘If I can save someone from the pain that I felt when your Dad died, I want to do it.’ ”
Ms Barthel said, when her mother was not expected to live, she told the doctor of her mother’s wish to be an organ donor.
“He got mad at me and said, ‘Leah, my responsibility is to keep Chris alive,’ ” she said.
“That was very reassuring because one of the big myths is that if you sign to be a donor they won’t try to save you.”
Ms Bathel said her mother’s kidneys and lungs were given to three recipients, and other organs were taken for research.
She said the entire process, including the gratitude of the recipients, had helped her family deal with their loss.
Some tickets to the ball, which is sponsored by MiFund, are still available. Contact: https://www.trybooking.com/LRRV
The name of the ball derives from the Barbara Haines Howett quote, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.”
Ms Barthel said a friend texted the quote after it became known her mother would not live.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Ms Barthel came across the same quote a day or so later when searching for some papers.
The quote is printed at the the top of the leaflet (at right) which has full details of the event.
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