Natalie Dawn may have left this world too soon, but she made a significant impact on the community
Natalie Dawn Willard was no ordinary young lady.
She may have only graced our presence for a short time, but she proved that a bright smile and friendly attitude can directly impact a community at large.
Mohave County Sheriff Doug Schuster was one of many individuals influenced by Natalie. He said she captured his heart the minute he met her, and he won’t easily forget her smiling face as there is a photo of the two of them framed on his desk.
“She is in a better place, and I think it’s vital that people understand that she touched so many people – she made me a better person in the very short time that I knew her,” Schuster said. “But the nice thing about Natalie is I truly believe in her short five years on this planet, she impacted more lives in a positive way than most people will do in a full lifetime. That’s a tribute to her – there’s a picture of her right there.”
The photo on the desk isn’t the only tribute to Natalie though, as Schuster and the sheriff’s office made sure the young lady became an honorary deputy.
“We had a miniaturized sheriff’s uniform made for her – identical to what we wear,” Schuster said. “This was all done through donations. We had a little badge made up for her that said her name on there. It was a very special tribute.”
The community support didn’t stop there.
State 48 Fitness, 2364 E. Northern Ave., held a special WOD (Workout of the Day) on June 4 and it raised $560 for Natalie and her family.
“She is part of our community,” said Sarah Alvarez, owner of State 48 Fitness.
It was the second WOD for Natalie, and Kristen Davison created the workout with repetitions based on numbers surrounding Natalie.
The five rounds represented Natalie’s favorite number (5), while the 11 synchronized air squats, 8 high-5 push-ups, and 13 partner plank burpees made up Natalie’s birthday (11/8/13, Nov. 8, 2013).
Even though Natalie is no longer with us, State 48 will continue to host the event in her memory.
“Every single year, the workout never changes,” Alvarez said. “It’s called the Team Natalie WOD and it stays that forever. Every year, it’ll be that.”
Chili’s, 3840 Stockton Hill Road, joined in with support as they hosted a fundraiser in April that helped raise money for Natalie.
“Any time anything is happening in this community with anyone – this is why I love Kingman – everybody just comes out to support everybody,” said Sonia Ortman, manager at Chili’s. “And that’s what we did for Natalie. The community has so much love for her.”
It was for that reason the sheriff’s office decided to bestow one final tribute for their honorary deputy after she passed away June 9 after a battle with stage four high risk neuroblastoma.
The “last call” over the radio/police scanner is something MCSO does when it loses someone in their law enforcement family. Since Natalie was part of that family, it was decided she would receive one final salute Wednesday following her Celebration of Life.
“When I heard that she passed and I was asked to speak at the funeral, my dispatch supervisor came to me and she said, ‘You know you made her an honorary deputy, would you like to do a ‘last call?’” Schuster said. “And I said, ‘Absolutely.’” She wrote it up and I looked at it and said, ‘God bless you, yes let’s move forward with that.’ It touched a lot of people.”
And Natalie’s impact will no doubt continue to be felt for years to come, especially for the ones who were closest and knew she was one special young lady.
“In the last conversation I had with her, I said, ‘Natalie, I want you to know how much I love you,’” Schuster said. “And she said, ‘I love you too, Sheriff Doug.’ And that’s the last thing she spoke to me, and it’s something I’m always going to remember.”