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'I've never seen someone who smiled so much'

'I've never seen someone who smiled so much'

From the The cost of COVID: Remembering lives lost in Southeast Nebraska series
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Hope McGraw

Hope McGraw, a 22-year-old crew leader at a York restaurant, died of COVID-19 in January. The well-known woman was always smiling and brightened others' days.

The fundraiser at McDonald's was for Hope.

In memory of Hope. To help Hope's family.

Hope McGraw, a 22-year-old crew leader at the York restaurant, died of COVID-19 in January. A fundraiser a week later raised nearly $1,200 to help her family cover bills.

"She was really well-known. People would come in and talk to her," Jessica McGraw, Hope's sister-in-law, said. "Everyone who came in contact with her, she brightened their day." 

Hope contracted COVID-19 in the first few days of the new year. It's unclear exactly how she came in contact with the virus. She was taking every precaution, her sister, Brittany Hindal, said, including wearing a mask whenever she was around people.

Initially, she lost her sense of taste and smell. Then she started to feel worse, her sister said. Hope was hesitant to seek help — she didn't have health insurance and didn't want to pay a big bill.

One night, she woke up in the middle of the night and had trouble breathing. Her oxygen levels dropped. She was taken to a Lincoln hospital, but her condition worsened. She developed pneumonia. Blood clots became a concern. On Jan. 17, Hope died of COVID-19 complications.

"She was gone way too soon," Brittany said.

Her sister loved playing with her nieces and nephews and cherished her two cats, Josie and Jeb — "don't worry, they'll be taken care of," Brittany said.

Her obituary said she enjoyed music, movies and bowling, too.

"She was always smiling," said Brittany, who worked alongside her at McDonald's. "I loved to see her smile. I've never seen someone who smiled so much more than my little sister. She did not give a crap what anyone else thought. She was her own person. She was unique."

Jessica was concerned when her sister-in-law contracted COVID, but thought she would be OK since she was so young.

"We never thought in a million years she would be taken from us by COVID," she said. "It's definitely one of those things you see with older people and people with weak immune systems. It was eye-opening." 

Brittany texted her dad on one particularly tough day after Hope died. She said she really missed her sister.

Her dad replied: "Who wouldn't miss Hope?"

— Zach Hammack


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