Kassandra Kaulius was killed by a drunk driver 12 years ago this week, and her family continues to raise money for scholarships in her name and welcome softball teams at a memorial tournament.
On May 3, 2011, the 22-year-old was on her way home from a game at Cloverdale Athletic Park when her vehicle was T-boned at the intersection of 152 Street and 64 Avenue in Surrey.
This June, after a three-year absence due to the pandemic, the annual Kassandra Kaulius Memorial Softball Tournament will return to a park in Richmond, and local teams have already filled all 16 available spots in two divisions.
“We have teams calling trying to get in, so we have a waiting list,” said Kassandra’s mother, Markita Kaulius. “Everybody is very generous and wants to come out and donate to the cause because they know how important this is. It shows that my daughter is still missed in this community, so many years later.”
This year the Kaulius tourney moves to Richmond’s London Park from June 16-18. Details are posted on a Kassandra Kaulius Memorial Page on Facebook.com, where on Monday the family remembered details of the crash and its impact on them and others over the past dozen years.
“Next month on June 27th Kassandra would be turning 35 years of age,” says the Facebook post, apparently written by Markita. “I think all the time of where she would be in life. Would she be travelling or would she had settled down and be married now with one or two children or maybe three of her own children. Sadly, the impaired driver took away Kassandra’s life and all of her hopes, her dreams and her ability to live the life that she had dreamed of having.”
For the tournament days in June, Markita is organizing a raffle and prize table where proceeds help fund scholarships in her daughter’s name. Kassandra was studying to become a teacher, so the scholarships are given to those pursuing careers in education — 35 of them so far, worth $1,000 each.
“We were there last year but couldn’t have the tournament because of COVID, but they allowed us to be there for the fundraising part of it,” Markita explained. “We haven’t been able to do any fundraising, really, and we have still been giving out the scholarships. We’re glad to be back.”
Kassandra played for Surrey Storm and also for Delta Heat and White Rock Renegades teams over the years. She was a gifted pitcher who helped the Storm go to the national championships in 2008.
In the years since her daughter’s death, Markita has pushed for tougher penalties for those who drive while drunk, and has told her story to high school students across the province in the weeks and months leading up to graduation.
“I’ve been back to Ottawa six times trying to get laws changed,” Markita noted. “We’ve continued on, and with ICBC we go into high schools and talk about about Kassandra and how she was killed. That’s what I’m doing this week and this spring, I’m at Surrey schools on May 16 and 17 (Tamanawis and Lord Tweedsmuir).
“I tell the kids the story of how we went to the hospital knowing she’d been in a crash, thinking she was alive and then seeing the doctor’s face and knowing what had happened, all the things we went through,” she added. “I tell them they need to have a plan in place if they are going to go out and party, that they need to have the designated driver arranged ahead of time.”