(303) 674-7750 Helping During a Time of Loss

Sierra Kniss

- July 13, 2018

Sierra Kniss would like you to know that she received the offer of a lifetime, last Friday, the 13th of July.  The offer came complete with a new, and improved body, the possibility of all the ice cream she could eat, and the opportunity to fill heaven with amazing works of art, dancing and music. All of heaven certainly rejoiced in her arrival!

Sierra was born in Greeley, Colorado on February 25, 2018.  Shortly after birth, Sierra was moved to Children’s Hospital.  We always said that Children’s Hospital was Sierra’s second home, perhaps it really was her first.  She spent countless days there over her 14 years, and made friends with so many. She knew the housekeeping staff well, and made good friends with Vincent, the young man with autism who checked the numbers on all the electronics, and many, many more.  She even went to school at Children’s in their Medical Day Treatment school for three years.

Kevin and Kelly Kniss began their journey with Sierra when at one month old they brought a bundle of smiles into their home. Jeremy and Matthew met her at the door, and fell instantly in love.  Four years later, Aaliyah became Sierra’s sassy little sister. Two years after that, when Sierra was six, Sierra was reunited with her biological brother Owen, when he joined the family as well. Despite her many challenges, from day one Sierra was a joyful child.  She grabbed the heart strings of anyone who didn’t look away. She loved, and was loved by, so many more people than one would ever have a chance to count. Each one of those people left their mark on her, helping to mold her into the amazing young woman she grew up to be.  

That young woman was smart, quirky, sassy, funny, artistic.  She loved, above all things, spending time with her friends, especially her best friend Declan.  She had a great love of learning. She had dabbled in learning the basics of many different languages, and spent many hours of her last few weeks in the hospital studying Japan, and learning the Japanese language.

One of Sierra’s very best days came right before her ninth birthday.  She had decided she wanted to train her own service dog. She had spent many long hours studying what to look for, and we spent many days looking for just the right dog.  When she met Larry, it was love at first sight. She had no problem looking past the handfuls of stinking fur that were falling to the floor, or the ribs that stuck out. I’m not sure who trained who, but I do know that the two of them were inseparable till the end.

Sierra, always a student of life, chose as her Make a Wish, a trip to California to see the tide pools when she was seven.  She learned that she could challenge her limitations, and those that others put on her, during her weeks at Roundup River Ranch. Just this last May, Sierra got her dream of going to Prom, and had the night of her life at Mile High Stadium with her best friends Declan and Eva, and many of her other friends from Children’s Hospital.

After two years of nearly constant surgeries and major infections, Sierra made the brave choice to move to hospice, and not be tortured through another round of septic shock.  Sierra died peacefully, wrapped in her mother’s arms.

Sierra’s family is looking forward to sharing some time with all of the people who were touched by her joy and light and absolute love for life. Sierra LIVED her life – she sang and danced and laughed and loved. Let’s celebrate her, and remember that together.

Sierra’s memorial service will be on Tuesday, July 17 at 10:00am, at Northern Hills Church, 5061 East 160th Ave. (Highway 7) Although it is a Brighton address, it’s closer to I-25 than to the city of Brighton – please see the map.

The service and reception are going to be teen/tween centered, with Chris Ott – Sierra’s youth pastor – speaking at the service. It will be designed to be not overly solemn, not frightening, welcoming to anyone who would like to come, and a chance for Sierra’s friends to enjoy each other, create a beautiful piece of memorial artwork for Sierra’s family, eat kid food and have ice cream.

The “dress-code” is anything that is NOT formal and and NOT all black!! Sierra would want to see her friends wearing the clothes they love – comfortable and colorful!

There will be a slide show during the service. If you would like to contribute pictures to possibly be included, please upload them to this Google folder by noon on Monday:

Sierra’s wish was for people to not send flowers but to instead bring something for her family to donate to two places she cared very much about – dog toys and treats for a dog shelter, and music or art supplies for the Butterfly Program Pediatric Palliative Care. Also instead of flowers, Sierra asked that if anyone would like to make a donation, checks could be written to

The Butterfly Program (with the memo line “In memory of Sierra Kniss.”) All checks should be mailed to:
2525 S Downing St
Mason Hall – 2nd Floor
​Denver, CO 80210
There is an online option as well. It is: www.rmahf.org/butterfly.html

Please also bring hugs and smiles as we share memories of the girl who lit up any room she entered with her infectious laugh, humor and sarcasm!


2 Responses

  1. Michelle says:

    Dear Kelly and family,

    I was deeply saddened when I heard the news about Sierra. I unfortunately heard too late to attend her memorial, which sounded like just the kind of celebration Sierra would have loved. Although my heart was heavy to learn of her loss, it was light to know she has transitioned into a beautiful new life with no pain or struggle. It was my great pleasure and honor to have taken care of her during some of her stays at Children’s, and I feel privileged to have known the beautiful girl with a sweet and strong spirit. She was filled with so much love, wit and a lot of sass. I’ll miss her, I’ll miss you. I’m so thankful she is at peace, and know you’ll see her again some day. May God bless you, keep you strong, and give you his peace until that day comes.

    With love,


  2. Shari Hoeffner says:

    Dear Kelly and family,
    Our heart and prayers go out to you! Sierra when such a bright light and brave girl. The heavens are truly rejoicing with new and and with her new and wonderful body. We are so honored that we got to know her. May God grace you with all the days ahead with His Love and Mercy.
    Thank you for sharing her story and her life with all of us. God bless you!

    All our love,
    Shari, Sadie and Audrey