A tireless advocate for families and children, McLean High School graduate Elizabeth Kasulis Padilla died in New York City on June 9 after being hit by a truck while riding her bicycle in Brooklyn. She was 28 years old.
One of her cousins, Mike Padilla, established a Web site to memorialize Padilla, www.thepadilla.com, in which he states that she was an avid athlete, running in the DCRRC Turkey Trot with her older sister Sara and husband, Telemachus "Tim" Kasulis in Arlington in 2003 and participating in other cycling and swimming events. She also spent time as a volunteer firefighter in Charlottesville and Cayuga Heights.
Her passion in life was helping the less fortunate, especially the children of HIV/AIDS patients.
Padilla spent two years working as a staff attorney for the Family Center in New York City, where she helped about 30 families secure future care for their children, said Ivy Gamble-Cobb, deputy executive director.
"She was a strong advocate for her families. She was very passionate about working for them," Gamble-Cobb said. "She wanted to make sure that she did everything she could possibly do in her realm to help them."
Padilla left the Family Center in December to take a position as a pro bono coordinator with the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyer Project, she said.
"They are working on a memorial service for Elizabeth that we've been invited to participate in because we knew her a little longer than her current coworkers," she said.
Several memorials have been set up in New York City for Padilla, including a "ghost bike" donated by Visual Resistance, a group that memorializes bicyclists killed by vehicles by putting a bicycle, spray painted white, and name plate in neighborhoods where the accidents occurred.
A large cyclist rally was held on June 10, the day after Padilla was killed, co-sponsored by two groups aimed at the safety of bicycle riders in New York City, Times Up! and Transportation Alternatives, said Bill DiPaola, director of Times Up!
"We are in a battle with the city because they are sort of promoting violence against cyclists," he said. "We had between 40 and 50 people at the rally on June 10, held for Elizabeth and also for three other cyclists who had been killed within the past two months."
Padilla's parents, David and Kathy Padilla of McLean, were unable to be reached for comment.
After graduating from McLean High School in 1995, Padilla went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Sociology from the University of Virginia, and later her JD with a concentration in international human rights law at Cornell University Law School.
Padilla is survived by her husband of two years, Telemachus Kasulis, a lawyer with Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York City, and by her parents and two sisters, Sara Padilla of Washington and Rebecca Padilla of Arlington.