Kathryn Stalk usually sleeps well past noon, but thankfully her snoozing habits didn’t keep her from waking up at 8 a.m. after her kitchen caught fire. She woke up choking.
“You couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you,” she said. “I heard my cats running around in a frenzy, and I just fell to the floor and starting crawling.”
Stalk quickly made her way to the front door, where she punched a thew the jalousie window on her front door and started screaming for help. Her neighbor, Misty Elaine McGlothin, heard her and chucked a cinder block though the window of the trailer and Stalk leaped out.
"After I got out, I realized my four cats were inside,” Stalk said. "I started screaming 'My babies, I need to go back inside and get my babies.’
Misty, I love her, I don’t know anything about her, but I love her. She pulled me back and thank God she did because in that state of mind I would have jumped back in that house.”
Another one of her neighbors, Stephanie (Stalk did not know her last name), busted through the front door and managed to grab one of Stalk’s four cats, Piccolo. The other three — Virgo, Bear and Nugget — died in the fire. Piccolo had one of his ears cinched in half and second-degree burns on all four paws, and Stalk suffered cuts, bruises and a third-degree burn on her left arm.
“I miss them so much,” Stalk said with tears in her eyes. “I people say that they’re just cats, but no, they were my babies. If you wake up every two hours to feed a kittens from a bottle, than you raise them. they are your babies."
Along with the loss of her furry family, the majority of Stalk’s belongings were destroyed. Among the things that survived were a Pikachu stuffed animal she had since she was 9 years old, useless math homework, and a "Xena the Warrior Princess” cardboard cutout. The last item being a testament to strength Stalk hopes to have moving forward.
“It was my first home away from my parents,” she said. “All I could think of was ‘How can I afford this and where am I gonna live?’”
Currently she is staying with her mothers, Maria Stalk and Debra Stalk. The entire family says they’re overwhelmed with the outpouring of love they’ve received from the community to comfort their daughter and help her rebuild her life after the fire that consumed her home Aug. 10 — just one day before her 24th birthday.
Kathryn suffers from mental health issues and all her medication she needs got destroyed in the fire. Red Cross came in and gave her credit care with enough money to purchase her medication. Concerned Citizens For Animal Welfare For Volusia County, helped get the word out about a GoFundMe account and helped raise donations. A pharmacist a Walgreens paid for her antibiotics.
“It’s unexpected,” Debra Stalk said. “People really do care. I get the chills thinking about it.”
"People have given money, donated shoes, clothes,” Maria Stalk said, "all the necessities you don’t think you need.”
Currently, the family has raised over $1,000 to cover some of Piccolo’s veterinary bills and Kathryn Stalk’s medical bills. The family started a new GoFundMe account titled
“Help Kathryn Stalk rebuild her life,” that currently has raised $395. The goal is $2,000.
"We understand people can’t give money all the time,” Kathryn Stalk said. “A prayer is just as good.”