Kirsten Lynn (Nichols) Vanderscheuren, 36, of Middleton, WI left us to WALK through the gates of Heaven on Saturday, March 23, 2019 due to complications from the flu and pneumonia. She was a gift to her family and everyone who knew her.
Parents Bob and Jill Nichols welcomed her into the world on December 17, 1982. At just under a year old, she was diagnosed with Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The prognosis was that she would never walk and that her lifespan would last only into her early teens. The doctors were correct about the walking, but had underestimated her resilience to far outlive her projected lifespan.
She received her first set of motorized wheels at age four and the race was on! Even at four years old she picked up driving almost immediately and was amazed at just how fast those wheelchairs go! Kirsten attended elementary through high school in Middleton, WI. In high school, she loved reading and writing, math, and especially loved music. She was an active member of the school choirs and composed a work of music that was impressively performed by her choir in her senior year. She had no fear of performance either, appearing in two school musicals, even playing FDR in the school production of "Annie."
Kirsten was the Muscular Dystrophy's Good Will Ambassador for a number of years and appeared at many MDA events and the local MDA telethons which aired on Channel 27. She loved MDA summer camp, attending from age seven through 21. The volunteer staff and campers alike became lifelong friends of hers well beyond the camp years.
After graduating with honors from high school in 2001, Kirsten moved on UW Madison earning dual degrees (in four years!) in Genetics and Communications. She wasn't finished taking on educational challenges, and went on to attend and graduate UW-Madison Law School in 2008. The family would like to thank the UW Occupational Therapy students that assisted her daily, helping her get to classes, meals, breaks for her service dog, etc., throughout her undergraduate and law school years. The Occupational Therapy students played an invaluable role in supporting Kirsten's experience in school, and she likely provided them with a learning experience that was beneficial to them as well.
Her legal career began in the UW-Madison's Legal office, before starting a part-time private practice and some contract work. Kirsten went on to use her legal skills working for the State of Wisconsin in the Equal Rights Office and for the last few years, was an Affirmative Action Specialist in the Civil Rights office for the City of Madison.
Kirsten's love for reading and writing lead her to join a writers group where she met and fell in love with Tony Vanderscheuren. She found her soulmate to love, laugh, and share her life with. They were joined in marriage in May 6, 2017. Their times together were some of the happiest of her life and it was obvious to all they were "two peas in a pod" and adored each other. They shared their home with Kirsten's Canine Companions service dog, Maura, and their three cats, Sid, Mr. Jones, and Sadie.
Kirsten was strong willed, never letting anything stop her from living life to the fullest. Her charm, intelligence, and a strong will to succeed allowing her to lead an incredibly purposeful life. She had obstacles like anyone, more than most of us, but would consistently summon the strength to overcome them. Her positive attitude was infectious to those around her. She continued to stay in touch with friends, and always seemed to meeting someone for coffee. She loved the color purple, butterflies, flowers (especially daffodils), and loved to draw, paint, create jewelry, and relax while reading in the warmth of the sun.
She was truly an amazing person, as she did not let herself be defined by her challenges. So, whenever you see a butterfly, think of Kirsten. Her passing was much too early in life, but it was time for her to fly. Her loved ones can take comfort in knowing she's beginning her eternal life, stretching her legs because, as she would say, "there are no wheelchairs in Heaven." And she is undoubtably also snuggling with her former family dogs and first service dog Eddie, meeting her great grandparents and probably singing and dancing in her own musical.
She is survived by her husband, Tony Vanderscheuren; parents, Bob and Jill Nichols; sister, Katelyn Nichols; her grandparents, Louis and Jean Unverzagt; and grandmother, Dorothy Nichols; nine loving uncles and aunts and many cousins and their children. She was proceeded in death by her grandfather, Robert Nichols.
Visitation - Friday, March 29, 2019 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. and Saturday, March 30, 2019 10:00-11:00 a.m. at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 602 Everglade Drive Madison, WI 53717.
Mass of Christian Burial - Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 11:00 a.m., St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 602 Everglade Drive Madison, WI 53717.
Everyone is encouraged to wear something with purple or a butterfly to the visitations and service!
Suggested Memorial Donations:
- Canine Companions for Independence (www.cci.org)
- MDA Summer Camp (truly the greatest week each year a child with MD can have) (www.mda.org)
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road, Madison
To send flowers to Kirsten's family, please visit our floral store.