The signs have popped up all over town, on store windows and at the front offices of schools: “Benefit for Kayla Woolwine April 6 at the Spur Bar, Star Valley at 12:00 p.m.”
The Tonto-Apache Tribe has also thrown its support for Kayla and her family, hosting a fry-bread lunch on Wednesday, March 13 in the Tonto Apache gym next to the casino from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.
The poster tells the story of local teen, Kayla Woolwine, fourth generation Payson resident, and a graduate of Payson High School: “On Feb. 18 they (Kayla’s parents Ronny and Wendie) got the knock on their door that no parent ever wants. They were informed that Kayla was in the hospital and that she many not live,” wrote Joe Mustaca, a friend of the family.
Kayla had contracted a blood infection that caused a stroke. The infection then moved into her heart, creating damage only open-heart surgery can fix, wrote Mustaca.
He described Kayla as a beautiful person who loved playing volleyball and worked at local businesses El Rancho, Knotty Pine and Bob’s Western Wear.
Her varsity volleyball coach Arnold Stonebrink said Kayla played on the team the last two years of her high school career.
“The thing about her that is so engaging and endearing is that she’s a fighter and people respect that,” he said.
He first noticed her fighting spirit her junior year when she suffered an ankle sprain that he said would have
given most players an excuse to give up.
“She was out of commission for one month, but came back,” Stonebrink said.
During her senior year, Stonebrink said she suffered from other health problems that sapped her energy, but she “stuck it out and came to practices, but you could see it in her face and eyes.”
However, Stonebrink said she lettered both years, despite the challenges.
Tyler McMinimy, a classmate of Kayla said she had a heart of gold and loved her volleyball. Along with many others, the University of Arizona student has donned green to support her. “People that do not even know her are donning the color. I had friends all over the state wear green for her that did not know her,” McMinimy said.
Stonebrink said Kayla’s family are really special people.
“A lot of people support her because of her family — they are friends with hundreds of people that want to give in an outpouring of help,” he said.
Mustaca wrote, “The costs involved with all of this are life changing. Driving to Phoenix, medical expenses, wanting to be by her side but needing to work.”
Mustaca asks the community to help with donations to the event raffle or cash donations to an account for Kayla at the Canyon State Credit Union.
Please call Joe Mustaca with questions: (928) 595-0151.
For questions on the Tonto-Apache fry-bread lunch, please contact Tim Barrett at (928) 472-1170.