Katie Hackman’s wedding is off, but she wants you to save the date. She’s still planning a big day of her own Sept. 7.
If you Google the Fort Wayne woman, you might find a link to her (now canceled) wedding gift registry, listing his-and-hers coffee mugs, bath towels and flatware. Hackman’s now asking for a different kind of gift — support for the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne in memory of her late father, Chris Hackman.
Chris Hackman, who grew up in Decatur and lived in Avilla, was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer in May 2017. He died just four months later with his family at his bedside. He left behind a wife and three children.
“Above everything else, my father loved his children and grandchildren more than life itself. He was an amazing man and an inspiration to everyone who came in contact with him,” Katie Hackman said.
Chris Hackman was an underwater welder for commercial oil rigs for years before he decided to pursue a career in nursing when Katie was about 9 years old.
“He was a hospice nurse for Heartland Hospice who dedicated his time and services to people in their darkest times,” she said. “I saw my dad struggle to provide for our family to finish his nursing degree.”
Watching him helped shape her own career path, and she works as a nurse in surgery at Lutheran Hospital.
“He always has been and always will be the reason I am a nurse today,” she said.
Chris Hackman left Katie with a small inheritance to help with her wedding. After the wedding was canceled just five weeks before the big day, she decided to host an ice cream social fundraiser in his honor 5-8 p.m. Sept. 7 at Salomon Farm Park, 817 W. Dupont Road, Fort Wayne.
“My father is the reason this event has been made possible, and I wanted to honor him by moving forward with our plans but by transitioning the event in a way to benefit the greater good of our community as a whole. Nothing is ever a lost cause, it’s always an opportunity for growth and change,” she said.
The event will include an ice cream bar from Jukebox Ice Cream Parlor, a bounce house, face painting, music and more. The event is free and open to the public. Katie Hackman is asking those who are able to make a donation to the Boys and Girls Club.
Hackman said supporting the organization that helps young people reach their full potential felt like the best way to honor her father’s memory.
“My father loved children, and we both thoroughly believe if they aren’t our future, I don’t know what is. (The Boys and Girls Club is) an amazing organization that touches so many lives and they deserve some attention and support for all the amazing resources they provide. The fact is, they are impacting and shaping our youths, which will ultimately determine the future of our community,” she said.
She wants to thank her family, friends and community who have come forward to help make the event possible.
Between losing her father and having an engagement break off suddenly, Hackman said the past year has tested her character. As a mother, she wants to teach her children that they can overcome anything if they “learn to ask for help and go where the love is.”
“I have little eyes watching me, looking up to me,” she said.
As a daughter, she still wants to make her dad proud.
“Be a good human. Do the next right thing, even when it’s hard, because that’s when it matters the most,” she said.