SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Connecticut and Connecticut Children’s is mourning the loss of an advocate who helped raise millions for the children’s hospital through HuskyTHON — and more than $118,000 on her own.
Nicole “Nicki” Cartier, considered a living miracle, spent 225 days as an in-patient at Connecticut Children’s when she contracted a rare bacterial infection when she was 5 years old, according to Mana Zarinejad, the vice president for corporate and foundation relations for the Connecticut Children’s Foundation.
“Our physicians and nurses and clinical team saved her life,” Zarinejad said. “She spent more than 100 hours in our operating rooms alone.”
Cartier died last weekend from what is being called a medical emergency.
She spent countless hours coordinating the annual dance marathon HuskyTHON while she attended UConn.
“If you were to put a face to HuskyTHON, it would definitely be Nicki,” said Cartier’s college roommate, Tori Lemme.
Cartier was on the fundraiser’s management team during her four years at UConn.
“The dedication and the time and the effort that she put into not only making the event possible, but raising money, as well, was remarkable,” Lemme said.
Cartier continued to raise money for Connecticut Children’s after she graduated in 2018.
Lemme said that Cartier, who lived in South Windsor, was selfless.
“She could just light up a room,” Lemme said. “There was always positive energy when she was around. She could always make you smile. She was truly a light.”
She brought that light to her job in the human resources department at Connecticut Children’s. She also appeared in a video for the hospital.
“I would just like to thank everyone at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center,” she said in a 2014 video. “They have made this place like a second home for me, and I consider them family and love them like family members.”
Her family asks for donations to Cartier’s memorial fund in lieu of flowers. As of Wednesday afternoon, it had caused more than $37,000.