FITCHBURG/CONWAY, ARK.- Elicia Betlach died on Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, in Conway, Ark., from an accidental overdose of pain medication to treat her multiple sclerosis.
Elli was born in Boulder, Colo., on Dec. 9, 1987, and moved to Fitchburg with her family in 1994. She attended Leopold Elementary, Eagle School and West High School, where she was active in art and DECA, winning a national championship in retail merchandising as a junior. Elli was active in Girl Scouts, spending summers at Camp Blackhawk first as a camper and then as a counselor (camp name Mercury). She was a member of Mariner Ship Kon Tiki, and continued to participate in the annual regatta. She attended Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. and was working to complete her final requirements for a bachelors' degree in Health Sciences with an emphasis in psychology. Elli was a lifeguard, an EMT, and was enrolled in a paramedic training program at ASU-Searcy. She hoped eventually to become a nurse. Elli was diagnosed with MS in March 2010. The constant fatigue and pain in her hands from the disease took much from Elli, but did not extinguish her hope, passion or talent. She was passionate about her family, her partner Heather, her friends, Girl Scout camp, art, cooking, animals and emergency medicine. Elli's cooking skills were legendary. She never completely followed a recipe, but allowed her creativity to guide her. Her friends will miss her treats, but mostly her smile and her kind heart.
She is survived by her parents, Michael Betlach and Paulanne Chelf ; sister, Madeline Betlach; as well as her partner, Heather Stroud of Maumelle, Ark.; and her canine kids, Rookie and Crash. Elli is also survived by her aunts, uncles and cousins in the Betlach and Chelf clans. She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Gene and Dorothy Betlach, Paul Chelf, and Judy Chelf.
A Celebration of Elli's life will be held at GUNDERSON FITCHBURG FUNERAL HOME, 2950 Chapel Valley Road, Fitchburg, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 5 p.m. until the time of celebration on Thursday. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Elicia's memory to the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/Elicia.Betlach) or to Camp Blackhawk for waterfront improvements (www.gsbadgerland.org/, click DONATE, and type "In memory of Mercury" or "In memory of Elicia Betlach".
Elli was fiercely intelligent, loyal, funny and astonishingly competent at whatever she chose to embrace. We will love and miss her always. Go out there and be kind to your fellow humans, and remember that not all disabilities are outwardly visible.