Some seven months ago, in a phone interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Katie Hnida discussed some debilitating health issues that had curtailed her efforts as an activist against sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
Since then, the 37-year-old former University of New Mexico football place-kicker’s health has gotten worse – so much so that her father, Dave, has established a gofundme account on her behalf.
A reaction to a common antibiotic, Dave Hnida wrote, led to multi-organ failure.
“Katie’s kidneys failed, her liver shut down, and her bone marrow quit functioning,” he wrote. “Her blood wouldn’t clot, and she had uncontrollable bleeding.”
She was admitted to a hospital in critical condition and underwent dialysis. A liver transplant was considered, but Hnida eventually stabilized and has been released from the hospital. But medical care will be necessary for months to come, her father wrote.
As of Thursday afternoon, the gofundme account established for Hnida has generated donations of more than $27,000 – well beyond the stated goal of $20,000.
Yet, Dave Hnida wrote, his daughter’s treatment already has cost more than $155,000 and will continue to rise.
“Other day-to-day expenses will also need to be met,” he wrote, “since it’s estimated that she will be unable to work for at least the next four to six months.”
In April, Katie Hnida told the Journal she had been diagnosed as having a brain tumor that, though benign, had been “working some havoc on my body.”
As a side effect, she was dealing with a disorder called dysautonomia, which affects the autonomic nervous system in various ways. She also was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that affects muscle connective tissue.
And now this.
“Katie has always given freely of herself,” her father wrote, “and now needs your help to recover.”
Katie Hnida emerged as a historic figure in the annals of college football when she became both the first woman to appear in and the first woman to score a point in an NCAA Division I game.
On Christmas Day 2002, during the Lobos’ 27-13 loss to UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl, Hnida came in to attempt an extra point. The kick was blocked, but Hnida’s appearance in the game prompted a round of national TV interviews.
Then, on Aug. 30, 2003, during UNM’s 72-8 rout of Texas State, Hnida converted two PATs
Hnida, both a kicker and a homecoming queen at Chatfield High School in suburban Denver, joined the Colorado football team as a walk-on kicker in 1999. But harassment and disrespect shown her by teammates, with no support from then-Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett, prompted her to leave. Illness -mononucleosis and tonsillitis – played a role in her departure as well.
She enrolled in 2002 at UNM where, she has said, under the direction of then-Lobos coach Rocky Long, she was treated with the utmost respect.
She remained on the team through the 2004 season, though she never attempted another kick. She graduated from UNM magna cum laude with a degree in psychology.
In February 2004, Hnida told Sports Illustrated she had been raped by a Colorado teammate whom she had considered a friend. It was her experience at Colorado that propelled her into a career as an activist.
She has criss-crossed the country multiple times in that effort, speaking and working as a consultant.