Chatfield grad Katie Hnida recovering from life-threatening illness

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By Alissa Noe

Katie Hnida, best known as the first woman to score in a Division 1 college football game, is recovering from an illness that nearly took her life.

Hnida, 37, a Chatfield Senior High School graduate, was prescribed an antibiotic a couple months ago and suffered a rare, life-threatening reaction: multi-organ failure, according to the GoFundMe page set up to help pay her medical bills. As of Thursday night, nearly $39,500 has been raised.

Hnida’s kidneys failed, her liver shut down and her bone marrow quit functioning. Her blood wouldn’t clot, and she had uncontrollable bleeding. Now, her family and doctors believe she will fully recover, but the recovery will be slow, the GoFundMe page said.

She was named one of America’s “20 most influential people” by Teen People magazine in 1999.

Hnida, who was the varsity kicker for the Chatfield football team, was three for three in field goal attempts, and 27 of 28 in extra points in her senior year.

“In a lot of ways, she was a typical football player," said Keith Mead, her high school coach at the time. "She was very much a part of the team. She was very dedicated, and she was a good kicker. She was our varsity kicker for junior and senior year and her senior year, she was perfect on extra points and had several field goals as well. She contributed a lot to the team and was just a great kid.”

Hnida attended the University of Colorado in 2001 and was a walk-on placekicker, then transferred to the University of New Mexico the following year, where she kicked two extra points.

In 2004, she was one of several women who reported being assaulted by CU football players and recruits.

Mead described her as a fighter because of the strength she portrayed through that whole ordeal at CU.

“One of the things that I would say about Katie is that she has the ability to persevere," Mead said. "It took her a great deal of courage to go through what she did at CU and continue on and not give up on her dreams, and find a place where she could have some success and feel good about being a football player."

She has been a national speaker, sharing her experiences in sports and raising awareness about assault. She is an author and has worked at several organizations helping victims of assault.

"One of the things that I recognize is that ability that she has — to go on and continue — is certainly something that will help her now as she’s going through a health crisis," Mead said. "She’s learned to deal with difficulties. There’s no question about that.”