Synagogue shooting victim Lori Gilbert Kaye's selfless legacy

Lori Gilbert Kaye is being remembered as a hero for the way she died. But the way she lived was just as inspiring.

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By Joe Dziemianowicz

A gunman’s bullet took her life, but he couldn't extinguish her spirit of giving.

Lori Gilbert Kaye was killed Saturday at the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego when a man opened fire during the last day of Passover. She has been hailed as a hero for throwing herself in front of the gunman's bullets to save her rabbi and others. Her quiet heroism also lives on in one of her last acts of generosity.

In her final Facebook post, the 60-year-old wife and mother rallied to raise $2,000 for Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps children with serious illnesses. Kaye had a strong personal tie to Chai Lifeline: Her sister Randi Grossman is its West Coast director.

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“I am drawn to Chai Lifeline’s mission of providing social, emotional and financial support to children with life threatening or lifelong illness and their families, and am inspired to give back,” Kaye wrote in support of a special crowdfunding campaign.

Since her death, donations in Kaye’s memory have poured in to Chai Lifeline. As of Monday afternoon, the amount raised more than doubled and now stands at just over $3,800.

“Lori lived life to the fullest and was fueled by performing mizvot (good deeds) for others,” Grossman told TODAY Parents. “She put her whole heart into everything she did and gave selflessly to people in need and to numerous causes. She was my champion and proudly supported all of my efforts on behalf of Chai Lifeline.”

Kaye’s family has established a memorial fund at the organization in her memory.

Founded in 1987, the organization now has 12 offices including ones in New York City and Los Angeles. Programs and services include counseling, crisis intervention, meal delivery, transportation to medical appointments, and summer camps for sick kids.

The money Kaye helped raised during her life and posthumously will do a lot of good for sick children and their families, Chai Lifeline chief marketing officer Matt Yaniv told TODAY. Her $4,000 equals about 61 hours of counseling, 80 round trips to medical appointments, 160 meals to hospitals and homes, 47 hours of insurance advocacy or family day trips for 160 people.

"Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us," Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "This is Lori. This is her legacy, and her legacy will continue."