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Family, friends celebrate life of Kansas City, Kansas, teen killed in crash

16-year-old Chelsey Updike donates organs
Chelsey Updike
Posted at 8:38 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 23:51:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  — Family and friends came together Friday to celebrate the life of 16-year-old Chelsey Updike.

Updike was taken to the hospital after a car crash near State Avenue and 75th Place in Kansas City, Kansas, on Memorial Day. She later died of her injuries.

Chelsey's mother, Sarah Updike, said her daughter always wanted a big party when she died. She organized an event to celebrate her daughter's life at the James P. Davis Hall at Wyandotte County Lake.

The event is exactly what Chelsey's brother, Ethan Maxey, said she'd want.

"She'd want a celebration, something to get everyone together, something to make people feel a little better about the situation somehow because that's just the way she was," Maxey said.

Updike said her daughter was someone who always fought for the underdog.

"She fought for equality, she fought for her friends, she was loyal, always," Updike said.

When she asked officials how her daughter was after the accident, they wouldn't specify.

"So I knew, I knew it was bad," Updike said.

When Updike realized she would lose her daughter, she immediately asked about organ donation, knowing it's what Chelsey wanted.

In 1991, Updike lost her first-born daughter, McKenzie, to a congenital heart defect. McKenzie needed a heart and a liver at the time. Updike had shared the story with Chelsey through the years, which is why she was adamant about being an organ donor.

"We knew as a family what it felt like to need an organ to save your child's life," Updike said. "Chelsey would say, 'You don't need your organs, you're dead.'"

Chelsey's heart and liver went to two men who Updike said she hopes to meet soon.

It's the same two organs McKenzie needed.

Updike said knowing Chelsey's donation will have a lasting impact on several families helps her heal.

"It's the only thing that makes us OK," Updike said. "I can just say that, it's the only thing that's made this OK."