Holy Cross community supports alum’s wife fighting illness

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Students and faculty at Holy Cross High School in Flushing are showing support for an alumni’s wife who is currently battling cystic fibrosis.

Katy Starck Monte, 30, the wife of Joe Monte, 27, a 2005 Holy Cross graduate who is working as a firefighter, has been fighting cystic fibrosis since early childhood. Her family and friends started the hashtag #OomphForKaty to keep hope alive after her first failed transplant.

Holy Cross’ Class of 2015 seniors participated in an assembly last Friday focusing on the school’s tradition of brotherhood and service, where Art Department Chairman Rob Botero discussed Katy Monte’s condition and the issue of organ donation.

The assembly also marked the one-week anniversary of Katy Monte receiving her second double lung transplant.

“We took the opportunity to combine what we try to teach students on a daily basis anyway about service and brotherhood and being connected and use that as the vehicle to really do something positive for the family of an alum and someone local in town who is kind of out of options,” Botero said.

Katy was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was 13 months old.

In 2011, she had a double lung transplant. She went into chronic rejection a few years later and remained in the hospital until she received her second double lung transplant Feb. 19. She is still in the hospital.

Katy’s friend from Florida told her that people were wishing her well and Katy said that people’s wishes gave her extra “oomph” to keep fighting, which sparked the creation of the hashtag #OomphforKaty.

The social media campaign has gone viral, with strangers including celebrities, posting photos and messages on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The Facebook page currently has more than 11,000 followers.

But Joe Monte said the real goal behind the campaign is to raise awareness about organ donation.

“We just want to get the message across about how important organ donation is,” he said.

Students in his studio art class also designed hand-drawn letters posted on the Internet to express solidarity with Joe Monte as a graduate of the school. The letters put together spell out #OomphforKaty.

Holy Cross senior Anthony Salazar, 17, said when he and his classmates discovered the project involved raising awareness about organ donation, they became even more motivated to put it together nicely.

“All of us put in that much more effort,” Salazer said. “We weren’t just doing it for a grade. We were doing it because we wanted to do it for the cause.”

Another senior, Brandon Nascimento, 17, who attended the assembly, said Katy Monte’s situation opened his eyes to the challenges that individuals with her condition face in getting organ donations.

“It’s just really an eye-opening situation for this lady and she’s really in my prayers a lot,” Nascimento said. “I just really hope for the best for her.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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