When Kara MacDougall was in kindergarten, she and her friend Lauren Greiner would ride the bus together to school. Being the only two kids on the bus, they would begin their journey in the front section and, "unbeknownst" to the driver, would slither under the seats on their tummies only to pop up in the back of the bus. When told to head back up, they took the same route, soiling their clothes all the more.
That's just one of many stories that friends of Kara's could share about a person they remember as fun-loving, spunky and loyal.
A senior at East Syracuse-Minoa High School, Kara, 17, died Jan. 18 after a short battle with liver cancer. Her funeral was held two weekends ago at Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville.
"We saw her every day," said her friend Leah Sweeney, who, together with Lauren and another friend Allyson Rossi, would visit Kara at the hospital and at home. Most of the time she was in good spirits, her friends said, adding that whenever she was surrounded by family and friends, she was in a good mood.
"She was happy," said business teacher Darlene Baker. "People were attracted to her because of that."
Kara was diagnosed with cancer in November, soon after she returned early from Australia where she was a foreign exchange student. Despite her grim prognosis, her spirit remained undaunted.
"When I saw her, I was amazed," said business teacher Joe Musolino. "The strength, the character. Somebody else might have fallen apart but she didn't change much at all. She was the same person."
And who was that person? An athlete, an academic, a friend, sister and daughter. Someone who stuck up for herself. Someone who was secure in her own skin. Someone who had dreams of becoming an elementary school teacher. She was silly, fun, compassionate, inspirational and resilient.