Kristie Rubino, who grew up in the Jeffersonville area and graduated from the former Jeff-Youngsville school, was known for her go-get-'em spirit and zest for life. That life and her sudden death after giving birth in 2011 has captured the attention of documentary filmmakers. In this photo, she's seen in her Assault City Roller Derby gear, known to her teammates as “Raging Ruby.”
Kristie Rubino's life
may save lives of others
By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE April 5, 2013 Kristie Rubino grew up in Sullivan County a happy, healthy girl, becoming a happy, healthy woman who loved the contact sport of roller derby, playing as “Raging Ruby.”
She also loved kids, helping them as a social worker in the Syracuse area. And while her pregnancy with fiance Jeff Wilkins was a surprise, family confirmed she couldn’t have been happier.
But hours after giving birth to son Brody on August 1, 2011, Kristie sank into unconsciousness and died of a brain hemorrhage.
Her blood pressure had dramatically spiked, apparently due to a little-known condition called preeclampsia. Though rare, it can be fatal.
Kristie’s Sullivan County relatives, fiance Jeff and her roller derby teammates were in shock.
This was a 35-year-old woman in the prime of her life, who’d worked right up until three days before her C-section in an otherwise normal pregnancy.
“It didn’t seem real,” said Becky Firman, president of Kristie’s roller derby group Assault City, in an August 28, 2011 in-depth feature in the Syracuse Post-Standard. “I started calling everyone to ask, ‘Is this real? Is this a sick joke?’ You think women don’t die in childbirth in this day and age. But she did. It’s just sad. You go from the most joyous moment in someone’s life to the most tragic.”
Such painful moments are all too familiar to Anne Addison, who founded the Preeclampsia Foundation after two near-death experiences during childbirth.
Living in Washington State, Addison is now vice president of a for-profit called Unexpected Project, LLC. She and President Jenn Carney, a fellow writer and editor, are co-producing a documentary about women who have suffered from preeclampsia and other complications during pregnancy and delivery.
“We’re trying to give a voice to the people this has happened to,” Addison explained. “We’re not trying to blame the doctors. It’s really trying to put a face on it, to make it more human.”
Addison discovered Kristie’s tale through that Syracuse Post-Standard article.
“Kristie’s story really struck me,” she recalled. “She was in the roller derby and vibrant. She really defied all of the stereotypes we are trying to defy.”
Addison has come across hundreds of compelling stories in her years raising awareness about preeclampsia, but Kristie’s is such a standout that she’s certain Kristie and her family will be one of the main focuses of the documentary.
The project is in pre-production right now, with $17,000 in cash and in-kind services already raised. Post-production costs are being covered by a preeclampsia survivor, and accommodations have been arranged at nearly all the places identified for filming across the country.
But to pay for the documentary crew’s travel and equipment expenses later this summer, Addison is aiming at raising $25,000 total.
Having deep experience with nonprofits, she’s deliberately created Unexpected Project as a for-profit to simplify and streamline the process.
But while that means donations are not tax-deductible, Addison said any funds above and beyond the $25,000 goal will be donated to charities involved in aiding women and families dealing with childbirth complications.
Addison is currently engaged in raising funds and talking with potential distributors like HBO. In the meantime, she’s looking forward to meeting Kristie’s friends and family when she and the crew head east in August.
“We really want to bring her alive in the story,” she affirmed, explaining the portion on Kristie will be more about her life than death. “Some of the best stories are true stories.”
The hope is that Kristie and other women, both living and gone, will help millions better understand and respond to preeclampsia and other life-threatening complications of childbirth.
“I really feel like this is a project that’s meant to be,” Addison added. “It’s a really heartwarming project to be involved in.”
For more information, email Addison at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.unexpectedproject.com. A PayPal donation link is available there, or checks can be mailed to Unexpected Project, 1701 Mitchell Road, Lake Stevens, WA 98258.
For the original Syracuse Post-Standard article on Kristie, see www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2011/08/her_precious_hours_with_brody.html.