Beaver Falls nursing grad puts spotlight on depression

( This is a big week for Nicole Krugh, who is taking the tough board exams that will earn her the right to list “RN” — registered nurse — after her name.

The board exams are one month after she graduated with honor from the 18-month program at the Community College of Beaver County to earn her associates degree in nursing.

The nursing degree adds to her resume as a wife, mother of two daughters and sibling of two sisters.

On Friday, Mrs. Krugh will preside over the Cocktails For a Cause fundraiser at the Rivers Club in Pittsburgh.

The 5:30 p.m. event is raising money to provide a scholarship in memory of her sister, Taylor Elizabeth Donnadio, 16, of Beaver Falls.

On Jan. 6, Taylor stepped in front of a moving freight train and was killed.

Mrs. Krugh, 32, of Chippewa, attended her sister’s funeral and returned to school to complete her nursing studies.

“She could have become angry or bitter,” said Celine M. Wolsko, a registered nurse and assistant professor of nursing at CCBC.

“Instead she took her devastation and worked to get something positive from it.”

Mrs. Krugh is working to raise awareness about teen depression and suicide, starting with the website that she set up and establishing “Tumbling Forward — The Taylor Donnadio Memorial Fund.”

Taylor was blonde, beautiful and bright, a high-honors junior at Beaver Falls Senior High School.

She was part of a loving close-knit family, with a big sister; a twin sister, Logan Joell; her parents, Joseph L. and Doris Hawthorne Donnadio; and two nieces, Madison Krugh, 6, and Morgan Mine, 12.

She was popular, was captain of the cheerleading squad, a three-year starter for Beaver Falls fast pitch softball and excelled at gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, track and a host of extracurricular activities.

“There was nothing she couldn’t do,” Mrs. Krugh said in a telephone interview.

“But depression is a disease that does not discriminate.”

The people who loved her knew that Taylor “had a great capacity for pain,” Mrs. Krugh said. “She often hurt as deeply as she loved.

At the age of 14, Taylor began to battle depression. She was able to tell us she was depressed, and she said she did not know why.”

The cause, apparently, was a chemical imbalance.

“We will never fully understand how she was driven to take her own life. We will always have unanswered questions,” Mrs. Krugh said.

“But life must go on. Taylor would want us to carry on and be happy. ”

Mrs. Krugh’s way of coping with this tragedy is to reach out to others.

“I think Taylor would be proud. She was always helping others, but she could not help herself.”

The older sister who always wanted to be a nurse is using some of her time, energy and training “ensuring that we do not lose any other young, irreplaceable lives to depression.”

The website has information and links to other sites, including and the telephone number for a suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Taylor’s friends and classmates have access to regular counseling sessions.

They have helped with fundraisers for the scholarship fund, including selling purple silicone bracelets with Taylor’s name and the dates of her birth and death.

Friday’s fundraiser costs $20 for hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine. On Aug. 25, the Taylor Donnadio Memorial Golf Outing will be held at the Beaver Valley Golf Club in Beaver Falls. Auction items include a jersey signed by Beaver Falls native Joe Namath, a Penguins jersey signed by the entire hockey team and a guitar signed by The Clarks, Donnie Iris and Joe Grushecky.

When the class of 2012 graduates from Beaver Falls Senior High School today, one of them will receive $2,000 from the first Taylor Donnadio memorial scholarship.