Unyts is paying tribute to our heroes of organ, eye and tissue donation. It seemed fitting to call this new endeavour “Honoring our Heroes”. We know that for the families of these donors, they really are heroes, and we certainly feel the same way.
We are truly honored to share these very touching personal stories each month. If you would like to honor a hero, please read below. The month of December, we honor …
Amy Lynn Ruppert Kostowniak
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Family Photo from 2004
I had often heard this quote many times through the years, but I had never fully understood it until I met Amy. For she was the first person I had ever met that made me understand what love was. She will never be forgotten.
*Ed Kostowniak, Amy’s husband
Ed & Ben Kostowniak
*Next submission written by Mary Ruppert, Amy’s mother
As I sat for days looking at pictures and reading cards, so many memories flooded my mind. Growing up, my family lived in a community so all 13 cousins were with each other almost on a daily basis – seems that the cousins were more like siblings to each other.
At age 4, Amy began taking dance lessons. In Grammar School, she began piano lessons, played sports, and we enjoyed horseback riding and swimming. She was a 4H member and looked forward to having her projects displayed and judged.
During her High School years, she continued piano lessons and began voice lessons. She was in vocal competitions, winning many first prizes. Even with her busy life she, she worked at Tops and while there, met many of her lifelong friends.
Amy decided to go to College for communications, and soon realized she wanted to do something else. She enrolled in Fredonia majoring in Music Therapy. After Graduation, she took a year off and worked in a School for the Handicapped. She realized she could help children and received her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology. She and another teacher went to a workshop to learn a new technique, which they were allowed to use to help her students. At her funeral, a woman approached us with tears in her eyes and said, “If it weren’t for your daughter, our son wouldn’t have learned to talk”. To hear this Mom say this to us took my breath away. Amy truly loved teaching and never bragged about her many accomplishments.
She also loved to bake and she took a few lessons on decorating. She had a talent for it and one cake that sticks in my mind was of a lottery ticket. She continued working, being with family, and going out with friends and before I knew it, she had a steady boy friend.
In 2001 she married the Love of her Life. In August of 2005 they moved into their beautiful home that they designed, with their 15 month old son Benjamin and a soon-to-be born son in April. When they came to our house, she would open the door with Ben in her arms and say “We’re here”. I can see and hear her saying those words to this day.
Amy loved the holidays – Halloween and Christmas were her favorites. She loved decorating inside and out. She also had a love of nature. When they were living in their apartment, she put a bird feeder out on the brick sill. The birds would flock there and she said….”Mom, now I really get a bird’s eye view”, and started to laugh. She had a great sense of humor.
I remember she told me she wanted to be a Donor, but I never knew that she followed through.
Throughout her 32 years, we were so connected – NOT only a Mother and Daughter, but BEST of friends. My happy little girl grew into a beautiful woman, and has given new life to others.
I received a letter from Unyts telling me her cornea’s were given to 2 people in South America and a letter dated Jan. 13, 2007, from a women who received her tissues. She stated that without Amy’s donation, she was bound to be in a wheel chair, but now she can walk again without a cane or help from others. It was bittersweet to read this letter.
Amy loved life, her family, friends and her students. I am so proud of her that she thought enough of others to help them through her donations.
It will be 7 years on Dec. 20th that the Lord called her and Matthew John home. There is not a day that passes that I don’t talk to her. At night, I ask the Blessed Virgin to hold them in her arms and kiss and hug them for me. She sends me signs that she is with me. Her physical self is gone, but her Spirit remains with me. I love and miss you so much my sweetest daughter and until we are together, you will FOREVER be in my heart.
Love Forever, Mom
Amy Lynn has left her mark on the world by “CARING.” Her love of music and teaching made her exceptional. With her use of the Disney characters, she made it easier to understand. She painted a full size “Goofy” character for me which is still hanging up and gave me a “Goofy” pin to wear at her wedding. Everyone who knew her will miss her forever, As I will…
John & Mary Ruppert, Amy's parents
*The following submission was written by Don Ruppert, Amy’s brother
When you’re asked to write something like this, one knows immediately that he wants to – but will quite honestly struggle with being able to share his thoughts or limit his words to a simple sentence or paragraph. Often in life, it takes a tremendous loss to appreciate what we once had. What truly defines how special Amy was, is that she had a unique way to make everyone appreciate the simple things in life, how to value family and friends everyday, while she was here. Her approach to life was so sincere, unselfish, honest, warm and heartfelt. You could appreciate her everyday efforts, in many cases motivating so many people, including me, when she didn’t even realize that she was. As a brother, I had the luxury of watching her become a mother and a wife, in addition to being a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, and a friend.
She always had the ability make you smile and share happiness and comfort even in unsettling times. Her spirit and soul were so rich with love, her unmatched energy as an educator and willingness to help people was clearly valued.
Don Ruppert and baby Ben
While we were fortunate to have her with us, and continue today with the contributions she makes even while she isn’t here physically. Every person who Amy is with today has more than they realize- an angel. That was what she truly was, and still is, to me and everyone who knew her. It has been said an angel never parishes, they simply grow bigger wings to help more people, and I can say she still helps me.
Always thinking of you and forever missed. I love you,
Your brother, Don
*The following submission was written by Karen Chapman, Amy’s cousin
Amy and Karen Chapman, her cousin
As I sit here reflecting on my memories of my cousin Amy Ruppert, I realize what an impact one person can have on another person, and you don’t realize the impact until they are gone. It has been almost 7 years since my cousin passed and not a day goes by that she is not forgotten. Amy was like the sister I never had. She lived about five houses down from me, and we grew up horseback riding, snowmobiling, sledding, ice skating, going to the movies, playing bingo, and me teaching her to play piano. Amy had a great musical talent not only with the piano but singing as well. I remember hearing her sing for the first time in church. Her voice was so powerful yet soothing, and I couldn’t believe it was her! As we grew older, I left Buffalo and joined the Air Force. I remember visiting her every time I came home on leave, and we talked about the time I was going to retire and move back to Buffalo. Unfortunately, Amy died before I retired. I remembered I was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan and wasn’t allowed to come back for the funeral. I spoke to my commander and told him Amy was like my sister, and he allowed me to take 3 days of leave to come home for the funeral. It was the holiday season, and unfortunately I couldn’t even buy a first class ticket home. I have regretted missing her funeral as I never got to say goodbye. But I did have an experience I will never forget: It was the day after the burial, and I was sitting in my living room with my fiancé (Brad) and the two dogs. All of a sudden, my oldest dog – Molly – was staring into space and it appeared Molly was following a spirit through the house. Brad and I both looked at each other and said, “Amy is here saying goodbye.” We could feel a presence in the house and then it left. We both turned towards each other and smiled as we knew it was her. One thing to remember, life is journey. It is not our decision when we are born or when we die. It is the memories we cherish with each other and the joys of people touching our lives.
I love and miss you Amy!
***Submission by Carolyn Cleversley, Amy’s aunt
She was one of the most beautiful, kind, compassionate, caring and loving people I ever knew. So much of her beauty was inside her, as well as outside. Amy was born to my sister in law and brother, but they were so generous as to share her with me. I have 3 boys and they allowed me to participate in her life as an adopted daughter.
Time spent with Amy was some of the happiest times of my life. We had fun together and one trip in particular, we went to an old school house and to pick cherries. We laughed a lot because I was a little short to get the cherries and when it was all over and done with, Amy put together this unique album of pictures. It was a triangle and contained all the things we did that day. It is a treasure I will always keep close to my heart and the memories it contained.
We loved to go to Craft Shows. So many things to look at – creative input to our minds but it was a pleasure to go with her and see her light up with ideas. Once she was married, her husband Ed would join us.
Amy was a very talented pianist and a wonderful voice that you thought you were listening to an angel sing. No matter where or when it was, it was great to attend her performances. Then she went to college and was trained further in her talent to teach mentally challenged students. She was so patient and kind with them and they loved her – but then who didn’t?
She had so much patience and kindness in her, the memories never seem to fade and she never failed to share them with everyone and anyone.
My heart aches when I think of her, the times on each Saturday when we chatted and how early she was taken from us. However, she would not want us to be sad and I feel she is in heaven taking care of all the babies.
Her greatest gifts in this life were her husband and son, but then gave life to so many after being an organ donor. I will always keep her in my heart, pray to her each day and knows she watches over all of us.
*the following submission was written by Sandy Hammond, Amy’s friend
I had known Amy since we were about 15 years old. We not only were high school friends, but we worked together at Tops as well. Having been friends nearly 17 years, we joked that we were friends longer than we had not known each other! In 17 years of friendship there are a lot of memories to choose from but I’ll share just a few. Amy was such a great friend and I miss her so much. Some of my favorite memories are the simple ones like “Friends” night when we’d meet to watch our favorite sitcom, or visits to her at college in the Finger Lakes when I earned my first speeding ticket, or the countless nights in her parents’ basement playing games and just chatting, 4th of July parties at the beach! Whatever we did, it was fun when Amy and her laugh were around! Her laugh was contagious! After college I moved out of state and as sometimes happen, friends can drift. This was not so for us. It didn’t matter how much time had gone by between calls or visits, we could pick up right where we left off! We could chat about just about anything!
Amy was a caring person; it didn’t surprise me when she picked a profession that allowed her to help people.
I also remember the fun of both hearing and seeing Amy become a loving wife and mother, she was definitely a natural. I believe it was the joy of her life!
Sandy Hammond & Mary Ruppert, Amy's Mother
It’s difficult to put into a few words what Amy meant to me, because she was so much to so many people and will continue to be missed. There wasn’t much that Amy didn’t know about me (and she loved me anyway!) I was blessed and grateful that I got to call her my friend! I miss her always!
In loving memory of Amy
*The following submission was written by one of Amy’s friends and former classmate
Cory Gallagher, Amy's friend & former classmate
Amy Ruppert was an inspiration to me–She was the first person that I ever knew that inspired me to sing…Now I am a professional singer and often think about Amy…especially when I sing her signature song that she used to sing so beautifully–from Phantom of the Opera–”Wishing you were Somehow Here Again”–Ironic the way that song now would speak so loudly to our hearts.
We took music lessons from the same piano/voice teacher–I can remember all of the recitals and music competitions when Amy would get on stage and sing from her soul. I can just imagine her now–She stood tall and confident–Her voice was a powerhouse of passion and strength…It would send shivers down your spine…and give goose bumps…People would listen and be mesmerized by the beauty and power in her voice…I never knew that one day I would get similar compliments about my own voice…I didn’t know that I had a voice and gift to share until years later–I think Amy planted a seed of inspiration in my heart…and years later, after nurturing that seed I was able to share my own gift of singing and music with people.
It was also years later that I would be asked to sing at Amy’s funeral service…That was such a deep honor…It was such a raw, wintry day–just days before Christmas–and the sting in the frigid air matched the sting we all felt in our hearts as we laid to rest beautiful Amy and her baby that she was carrying…I remember singing “Silent Night” and all of us were so pierced by the poignant lyrics…”Mother and Child–Sleep in heavenly Peace.”
I recently recorded a new Remembrance CD and the inspiration behind the song “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” was Amy Ruppert and Her Mother, Mary. I sang it at a concert on Nov 2nd in honor of All Soul’s Day and Mary was in the audience. During that song–our eyes connected and I knew deep within that Amy was with us in that moment of beauty and that the song was bringing the lyrics to reality.
It is beautiful the way God works and weaves our lives and paths together with different people…Now I have rekindled a friendship and bond with Amy’s mother–Mary Ruppert, who is a big supporter of my music and career… she is an inspiration to me…And music continues to touch and inspire and weave us together…I know deep within that whoever has gained life from Amy’s sacrifice and gift–is touched at their core by the music of Amy’s Heart and Soul. Amy is in fact ~~~~~Somehow Here Again–
Cory James Gallagher