My cousin, Melissa, at the age of 52 suffered a major stroke that destroyed her brain's language center and left her with many other physical limitations. That was two years ago.
Melissa had to gradually re-learn how to swallow and how to hold her head upright on her neck. She needed to learn how to stand again despite the fact that she had been an athlete, a dancer who taught dance to women in prison. Her professional life had been dedicated to fundraising for medical research at universities and hospitals.
Two months ago, Melissa's sister began a fundraising effort to provide funds necessary for Melissa to attend a 30-day intensive aphasia program at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Melissa needed $26,000 to get into this program to get her speech back. $21,873 has been raised in just two months! The generosity of people all over the world is amazing. If you could possibly spare just a little bit more, speaking will become a reality for Melissa. Pass this on to your friends. People like to help and to support each other in meaningful ways. Fundraising sites like Give Forward makes it safe and reliable to match a need with someone who wants to give.
There are times for each of us when we need help and there are times when we can give back. If you are in a position to give, please consider Melissa Drane or many others with various needs on the Give Forward site.
Let me finish by saying thank you! Melissa and Melanie thank you. Here's a personal note from Melanie, Melissa's sister.
It seemed unfair to me that such a gregarious, fun-loving woman would lose her language. Melissa was the friend who could be counted on to host dinner for holidays, birthdays, or any other excuse. She was the organizer, the bon vivant, and the last person on the dance floor—until her ischemic stroke hit the left side of her brain, and destroyed her language function. She was left her unable to say her own name.
I still cannot fathom what it must be like for her to sit in silence now—I try, but I can never fully know her experience; she is locked inside with her own thoughts of this new life. I miss her voice desperately.
Neural plasticity and brain rehabilitation are brave new frontiers in medicine. We know that repetition and intensity are the essential factors to brain recovery. If I can get her to the intensive aphasia camp in Chicago, she will have the much-needed therapy that she lost when her health insurance ended. In fact, she will have six hours a day of treatment—!
As a result of your compassion, generosity, prayers, and encouragement, the Drane Sisters are almost there!
We are nearing the end of this fundraising campaign, and every day, we are a little closer to the goal. Please join me in getting the word out about this effort. I hope that we will one day be able to host a victory party, where Melissa can thank you in her own words.
Much love, and deepest gratitude to all who have accompanied us on this long journey.