As William Wallace once said, "Every man dies but not every man really lives." When we think of living a life that impacts others, we often think or read about everyday superheroes such as firefighters, soldiers, police officers, and those who influence people’s lives publically and on larger scales. We often forget that to do great things in life we don't have to move to a different country to be a missionary or run a massive organization. Your mission field and opportunity to touch people's lives can be right in your own backyard. The movie “Kind Katie” will show how one girl’s life touched many in her very own community.
Katie Beth Carter, an 18-year-old full of life, was three miles from campus when an eighteen-wheeler broadsided her—killing her on impact. It was a very horrifying time for her family and friends. But what you will soon discover is how Katie Beth's life changed countless lives not only when she was alive but after death. Her story will grab your hearts and leave you with the lasting impression that you don't have to be a superhero to influence someone's life. You can be a world changer by one single act—being kind.
Inspiring Day had an exclusive interview with Katie Beth's parents, Jason and Amy Carter, and a man so inspired by Katie Beth’s life that he decided to produce a movie about it, producer/writer Jon Graham. In this heart touching interview, they share who Katie Beth was, the details of her tragic death, the impact her life has had on the community, what advice they would give to parents who have lost a child, and how you can get involved with the creation of the movie Kind Katie. Here's her amazing story!
Who Was Katie Beth Carter?
According to her parents, Katie Beth was your typical teenager who had struggles of her own. Looking at Katie Beth from the outside she was really your average girl, with your average looks. She failed at some things and succeeded at others. But three things she loved with her whole heart was God, people, and dancing.
She was a rule follower, a perfectionist, task-oriented and people-oriented with a big heart. Katie's mom says, "She was the kind of girl that if she saw someone sitting by themselves at lunch, she would go and sit with them. She was very sensitive that way." "Even with her friends, they would say all the time, 'she was a true friend.' She was going to laugh with you, she was going to cry with you, she was going to comfort you, but she was also going to look you straight in the eyes and tell you if there was something about your life that you needed to correct. She was willing to receive the same," said Jason Carter.
Trials and tribulations struck Katie Beth when she didn't make the high school varsity dance team, so she decided to attend a dance studio to further her training. "That's really where she blossomed," explained Amy Carter. She was a very driven young lady and started to become more comfortable in her skin through her Junior and Senior year. When she made the “Marching Ballerina” dance team at Jacksonville State University, both parents agreed that Katie Beth was doing what she was born to do, and she was the happiest they'd ever seen her.
Her Parents on the Tragic Accident
The tragic accident occurred on Labor Day weekend. She had just spent an incredible weekend away at her family’s home where she spent quality time with loved ones. It was the perfect weekend. As she loaded in her car to head back to campus, her mom reminded her like she always did to let her know once she arrived. As hours passed, it became a parent's worst nightmare, as Amy had not received any contact from Katie Beth to let her know she had arrived safely. In her gut, Amy knew something was wrong. After many hours of trying to get a hold of her, the parents finally received a phone call from Katie Beth's phone only to hear the doctors voice on the end of the line. Katie was dead on arrival at the hospital. The loss and pain of losing a child is one that is unexplainable and one that both Amy and Jason Carter were now forced to face.
“What advice would you give to parents who have lost a child?”
Jason Carter shared, "I think first and foremost it’s important to be real honest with your emotions and feelings even with God. He can accept our anger and our heartache and all those things and feeling free to do that. I think I would tell parents who have lost children to be intentional with the relationship that you have with your spouse; you have to be intentional with the relationship that you have with your children. They heard the numbers and the statistics of marriages that don’t survive when going through something like this. With that and with our faith we’ve tried to work really hard to communicate with each other."
“How has Katie Beth’s life and death impacted and inspired the community?”
"Katie Beth was a normal girl, and she was extraordinarily, unextraordinary. She did simple things very, very well so much so that she left a lasting impression. Not by what she’s known for but how she made people feel. One of the counselors said, ‘'Katie Beth made you feel like you were the most important person on her agenda for that day.' And that transcended to every person she encountered," shared Katie Beth's Father. Her life touched the hearts of many in the community and in other places of the world such as Nicaragua, a destination she had the opportunity to serve on a mission trip during her spring break. After her death a school was opened and named in her honor, "Katie Beth Carter Memorial Institute in Nicaragua."
“What inspired a producer/writer to create the movie, Kind Katie?”
Jon Graham shared, "I started following what was going on in their life and seeing what felt like to me, a far more incredible outpouring of love for Katie Beth then I would typically see for a teenager. Certainly got my attention when Taylor Swift made her donation to their funeral expenses. Thought wow in just a few minutes this has made national news because of the generosity of Taylor Swift. What really got my attention was what the Chattanooga ABC Affiliate did a couple of days after her death. They interviewed her classmates about the hole it left in their community when she passed away. One student reached into his wallet and took out a note that Katie Beth had given him five months earlier. It struck me that this girl must have had a pretty incredible impact on kids when a young man (not her boyfriend) kept a note in his pocket for five months and was able to produce it when the news crew showed up. Started digging in deeper and the more and more I heard about it I was blown away how God was taking this unbelievably horrific tragedy in the life of his friends and turning it into something that was impacting other people's lives. It’s an incredible picture of His grace and beauty."
“When people watch this movie how do you want them to walk away feeling?”
Jason Carter said, "Jacob (Katie's brother) said it best, 'You see true story movies, and you go wow I could never be the next Nelson Mandela, or I could never be the next Martin Luther King, or whoever the person is who did great and mighty things." He continues and ends with, "My hope that when people see the film, they will go that was an amazing story about that girl. But I want them to be able to get up, throw their popcorn in the trash can and on their way to the car say, ‘I can do that too. I can make a difference in people’s lives by just being kind to others.’"
“How can people get involved to make sure this movie comes about?”
This is the first faith-based film ever to use regulation crowdfunding. Please go to kindkatie.com for more information and how to get involved.