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Emily Kathleen Garcia: A Memorial for a True Disney Princess

Emily Kathleen Garcia: A Memorial for a True Disney Princess

Emily Kathleen Garcia, “Emms,” as she liked to be called, peacefully passed away at home on May 15, 2017 with her family and beloved dog BreaAnn by her side. Emily was born on April 9, 1987 in Austin, Texas, entering the world 12 days earlier than expected after her mother attended a Disney on Ice event. She always said she heard the Disney music and just couldn’t wait to make her arrival so she could become a Disney princess.

That is how Emily treated all of her life, with a passion and tenacity that was both inspiring and, for some, tiring as they struggled to keep up. From her early years, she was a trendsetter, once convincing an entire 2-year-old group of classmates at Stepping Stones Daycare to wear their t-shirts off the shoulder by pulling the neckline under one arm. The trend continued for almost six months, much to the parents’ dismay as the number of stretched out necklines in their child’s wardrobe mounted.

As she matured into a young lady, her love of books, education, and all things Disney grew with her. Her teachers met the daily challenge of Emily “the bag lady” who brought not one but multiple backpacks and bags filled with supplies for her classmates. Emily was always concerned that some of her friends and classmates did not have the “cool” things she had, so she needed to provide for them.

Emily’s love of the arts didn’t end with Disney, as she was fascinated with musicals, dance performances, and ballets. In Third Grade, teacher Kitty Braley gave Emily her first taste of The Nutcracker at the Bass Concert Hall, which quickly became an annual tradition. In Sixth Grade, teachers Ms. Helen Ortiz and Ms. Janie Castillo brought her on a summer trip to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D. C., and Emily came home hooked on travel and Broadway plays.

One of Emily’s other passions outside of performance art was animals. Throughout her life she had multiple pets including a variety of dogs (some of her favorites being Popcorn, Max, and BreaAnn), hamsters, gerbils, fish, cats, and even a chameleon. Emily loved animals so much, that in Ninth Grade, she and a friend started a non-profit organization to raise funds for the Lockhart Animal Shelter.

In 2005, Emily graduated from Lockhart High School and was accepted to The University of Texas at Austin, where she quickly adjusted to the social aspects of college life, becoming an Ice Bunny for the UT Hockey team. The academics were not a fit for her, so she returned to Austin Community College where she received an associate degree in Journalism in 2009. She then graduated with honors, receiving a Bachelors of Art in Mass Communications from the University of Texas A & M at Corpus Christi in 2011. While at A & M Corpus Christi, Emily worked for the school paper and even had one of her articles published on the front page.

Her love for travel and adventure inspired her to pursue a graduate program abroad through Webster University, and in 2012, she spent a year securing a Master of Arts degree in International studies in various countries including the Netherlands, Thailand, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Austria. As always Emily was fearless, and while completing her studies, she took every opportunity to travel, thereby adding stamps to her passport: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Czech Republic, Italy, France, Spain, and Poland. While in London, she discovered tickets for Broadway plays were $10 for standing room on same night performances, and in six weeks she attended more than 20 plays, soaking in the culture and dazzle of the theater.

After graduation, she returned to central Texas and worked at KOKE radio, the Texas Capitol, and for the Students Abroad program, which assisted foreign students attending the University of Texas with securing housing and acclimating to central Texas. In February 2014, Emily went to work for Gensler in Houston as a marketing specialist. Once again her passion and enthusiasm drove her to be a vibrant member of the marketing team. For a few months she lived with her Uncle Tom and Aunt Audrey while she planned for her apartment and career. They showed her the restaurants and sites of Houston, and she became known as the “dessert girl,” always wanting to leave room for dessert at any restaurant and making her dining selection based on the dessert menu.

On July 3, 2014, Emily was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She allowed herself one day to cry and then attacked the disease with the same tenacity, planning, and determination she had devoted to so many big projects in her life. Her primary oncologist recommended that, as part of her chemotherapy treatment, Emily would need to take the drug “taxol.” One of the most common side effects of taxol was 100 percent hair loss, but Emily refused to believe there was not a way to prevent this. Through research she learned of a UK-based “cold cap therapy” with hair loss reportedly being reduced by up to 85 percent. Emily ordered the caps, introduced the medical staff to the process, and kept over 90 percent of her hair in spite of four different rounds of chemotherapy.

It did not take long for her amazing oncologist to want to offer the process to his other patients. Emily became the official contact for the cold caps and instructing other patients on how to use them. Someone commented to her, “Why worry about your hair when you have cancer?” and she quickly replied, “Because every time I look in the mirror I don’t see a sick person with no hair, I see me. It makes all the difference!“

Though she was in an ongoing battle with cancer, Emily refused to let it get in the way of her living her life. She insisted on pushing forward with her dreams, desires, and passions. Additionally, Emily’s intense treatments and surgeries only solidified her love of Disney. She began treating herself to trips to Disney World using these as markers in her treatment and sharing her experiences via Periscope and Instagram. As she gained followers, and she submerged herself in the Disney culture, she also discovered she had a knack and passion for creating a much desired accessory to any Disney World trip: Mickey ears.

Emily opened an Etsy shop called 3mazing Ears (the 3 acting as a backwards e) and began to make custom Mickey ears for her patrons to buy. On any weekend or weeknight, Emily could be found going to a fabric store or reaching out to custom fabric designers to acquire a new piece of fabric that would enable her to create another perfect pair of ears. She created hundreds of different styles, and any time she opened the shop, the order requests would quickly pile up. More and more, her ties to Disney and the wonderful people she met while at the parks grew. As she made multiple trips to Florida, and as the cancer continued to persist, Emily decided she wanted to make a big change: she wanted to move to Florida, whether the cancer went away or not.

Finally, in January 2017, she secured employment at Atkins Global in Orlando, Fla., and her dream of having Disney in her backyard came true. For four glorious months, Emily mixed her passion for work with her passion for Disney. In March, Emily introduced her four-month-old nephew to Disney World and took him around the park, sharing the magic she found there with him.

Even in her final weeks, Emily harnessed the strength available to show those closest to her how much she loved them – be it with a smile, a kiss, or a laugh. Cancer may have taken her body, but cancer did not win. Emily’s spirit lives on through all of the lives she touched. Emily came into this world on her own terms, she lived every waking moment of her life on her own terms, and she inspired all around her with her positivity to do the same.

Emily was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Bob and Molly Pesek, and paternal grandfather, Gilbert Garcia, Sr.

She is survived by her parents Gilbert and Marianne Garcia; brothers, Mark Garcia and John Garcia, sisters-in-law, Heather Garcia and Sasha Sivolob; nephew, Jackson Emile Garcia; grandmother, Mariette Garcia; aunts and uncles: Tom Pesek and wife, Audrey, Judy Skipper and husband, Ron, Connie Ballou and husband, Nat, Joyce Hermes and husband, Tommy, Marylise Garcia and husband, Bennie, Chris Anderson and husband, Rick; Mariette Arriaga and husband Fide; and beloved cousins, friends, and coworkers.

Memorial services will be held on Thursday, May 25, at 2 p.m.at Faith Lutheran Church, 6600 Woodrow Ave., Austin, Texas. Burial services will be held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hallettsville, Texas, on Friday, May 26.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Faith Lutheran Church Youth Group, 6600 Woodrow Ave, Austin, Texas; The Ballard House, 21421 Cinco Park Road, Katy, Texas 77450; or Hannah’s Hope, 901 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, Texas 78401 or the charity of your choice.

Additional details about Emily’s life, her services, and these charities can be found at www.memsofemms.com.

Rita Ballou

May 24th, 2017

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