JK Rowling. Or as Catie used to refer to her – "my friend Jo."
JK Rowling’s relationship with Catie began with an email from Jo. It progressed to a friendship with multiple emails being sent across the ocean. Catie received gifts from Jo – including a stuffed animal cat and an owl. Catie sent Jo chocolate frog truffles and a magic wand.
The two shared stories about what was going on. Catie told Jo about her treatment and New York City while Jo shared what it was like to be working on Book 4 of the Harry Potter series. This relationship brought so much joy to Catie. She loved seeing Jo’s email pop up on the page and couldn’t wait to tell her about her Harry Potter birthday party or her Siberian Husky named Potter Griffindor.
But there came a time when I had to tell Jo that Catie’s cancer had spread to her brain and we only had a few weeks left with her. Jo’s response was to ask if she could call our home and read to Catie from the yet-unpublished book 4. Catie loved those calls. She curled up on the couch with her stuffed owl and stuffed cat and listened intently as Jo read to her from Scotland.
When Jo learned that Catie had died, she told us that she was crying so hard. The flowers she sent said that Catie was braver than Harry.
Jo said that Catie left footprints on her heart. And I believe her because in the seventeen years since Catie passed away, she has continued to support the Catie Hoch Foundation. It started with a donation of $100,000. And every time we have requested a signed book to auction off, the answer has been “Yes!”
The magic of Harry Potter continues to grace our lives. Because JK Rowling is the true magician. She uses her generosity to make a difference. The world is a better place because of Catie’s friend Jo.
Catie's story was featured in the Sunday Times Union on December 22, 2002. The story was picked up by the The London Sunday Telegram on December 29, 2002. Time Europe on April 30, 2003, and a Time magazine cover story on JK Rowling on June 23, 2003.
Letters published in Time the following week:
"The Real Magic Of Harry Potter" brought tears to my eyes, not just for the account of author J.K. Rowling's long-distance friendship with Catie Hoch, the young American fan befriended by Rowling as the girl was dying of cancer but also because of the far-reaching effects the Potter stories have on people of all ages..."
LORI MUSA Henderson, Nev.
"...While I've always admired Rowling as a writer, when I read of her emailing Catie Hoch and reading the fourth book aloud to her on the phone, my respect for Rowling as a person increased enormously. Please, Ms. Rowling, ignore the critics! Your understanding of the human condition clearly surpasses theirs."
ELAINE PAPPAS-PUCKETT Laguna Niguel, Calif.