Kay Caskey

University of Michigan health lecturer and superfit grandma

University of Michigan health lecturer and superfit grandma, 76, who bungee jumped, trekked Everest and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, dies after collapsing during a 10K race

  • Kay Caskey, 76, died Sunday shortly after starting a 10K race in Michigan 
  • Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services Outstanding Alumni Academy member did the run in Kalamazoo
  • She ran 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) before the medical emergency was reported 
  • Her family said a heart problem may have contributed to her death 
  • In 2003 she reached Mt. Kilimanjaro summit and in fall 2006 completed a 17 day trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp
  • She was a nationally recognized expert on humor and the affects on one’s health

A 76-year-old health professional – who climbs mountains and bungee jumps for fun – has died after having a medical emergency while running a race in southwestern Michigan.    

Kay Caskey collapsed while participating in the Sunday 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race of the Borgess Run for the Health of It event.

Her family said she had a heart condition that may have contributed to her death. 

In 2011, she took the plunge
In 2011, she took the plunge at the site of the world’s first bungee jump located in Queenstown, New Zealand

It was the first death at a race in the city 35 years, with the last occurring at the Kalamazoo Klassic.

Race organizer Blaine Lam said she had completed about 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) before the medical emergency was reported.

Medical workers are posted along routes for races, which started and ended on Gull Road, and attended to her quickly. Other related running events on the day which saw approximately 7,500 take part, included the Borgess Half Marathon and the Kalamazoo Marathon.

Caskey – who has climbed Mt. Fuji and walked rim to rim in the Grand Canyon – was taken to a hospital, where she died.  

‘I cannot overstate what an incredible mother and friend and teacher and example she continued to be,’ her Chicago musician son, Michael Caskey, told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette Monday.

‘We have comfort in the fact it was such a beautiful day yesterday, she’s running outside, so it provides a little bit of solace. But it’s sudden. That is challenging.’

She also had a son, librarian Bill Caskey, who described her as a wonderful grandmother to his children Rachael, 13, and Deven, nine.

In the summer of 2003 she reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and in the fall of 2006 completed a 17 day trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp.

In 2011, she took the plunge at the site of the world’s first bungee jump located in Queenstown, New Zealand. She appeared to keep very active in general and set two world records and won ten gold medals in international joggling competitions (juggling while jogging).

Caskey was a Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services professor. She was one of more than 100 alumni inducted into the Outstanding Alumni Academy.

The 1988 graduate’s honor came for her services on the Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness Program in 2010.

Only three Western Michigan University graduates have been honored with the Alumni Association’s 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award, for people ‘who have achieved a high level of success in their professions’. 

In 1996 she was awarded the prestigious Excellence in Education Award by the International Jugglers Association. Granted only twelve times, she and associate Laurie Young were the only women to have received this honor.

In decades they have had given over 1,000 keynote presentations and workshops to the likes of the United States Post Office, the IRS and ESPN.

A website for her Laughter Works businesses states she was a nationally recognized expert on the subject of health and humor.

In April 1999 she hosted ‘Laughter Works: An Approach to Healthful Living’ workshops about the ways humor can be used to increase teamwork, morale and productivity. 

Caskey also taught Successful Aging and Holistic Approaches to Play Across the Lifespan. 

She was described as an ‘entertainer not educator’ who strongly believed that learning should be fun. Her website also said she ‘fell short at tight rope walking and became a Master Gardener’. 

‘So grateful to have had Kay as a neighbor for one year; a fountain of kindness and joy for a lifetime. Indeed if she were cloned, this would be a far better world,’ Greg Boothroyd posted on an obituary website for the educator. 

 

 

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