Thursday, June 27, 2019

Enough about me...

Let me talk about my granddaughter, Abby. I may have mentioned, a long time ago?, that she was struck with a terrible affliction, Acute Flaccid Myelitis, or AFM. She was one of 100+ people in the US that were affected by it that year. And the statistics for the number of cases of AFM are very much the same, year after year. She was 13 at the time, and was going to be a freshman in high school in the fall, when she woke up early one morning, in great pain, and unable to move her legs. A long story, but after a wild ride in an ambulance for 2+ hours (the weather kept the airplane grounded) she arrived at UC Davis Medical Center where she was stabilized and then given this this terrible diagnosis. Weeks later and she was moved across the street to the Shriners Hospital for Children. More therapy and more pain for her. She remained smiling and very brave throughout all of this, though she saw her place on the high school volleyball team disappear and her weekly visits to Reno for gymnastics were gone. She was given her first wheelchair and adapted to it quickly and began her new life in high school.

Three plus years have now gone by and Abby just finished up her third year of camp with Ability First. This group leads a camp for children with disabilities and it's been a miracle worker for Abby. She changed immediately after her first camp. She came back with a 'can do' spirit that never left her. She now has a drivers license and car with hand controls. She is a member of the Track and Field team for the high school where she competes in Discus and Shot Put. At her second year of camp, she was given a scholarship for a brand new, custom made, Box chair. Mike Box is well known for his wheelchairs for athletes. She made a trip to Texas to compete in some wheelchair basketball games with her new chair. This year, in camp, she was able to master the single water ski (it has a chair) without any help at all. I have a video of her jumping the wake many times as the boat went down the lake. When she got home from camp, she and her father put her new racing wheelchair together. Her father had applied for a grant to buy this chair and this will enable her to become a full member of the Track and Field team. This week she returns to Texas for more basketball. She has one more year of Ability First camp before she is aged out at age 18, but they have already asked her to return as part of the staff for camp. She has been an inspiration and friend for many of the younger campers.

During the past 3 years there have been many more stories and tears along with the smiles. That's life, isn't it? As her grandfather, I would give anything to see her walking and running once again. But that's not going to happen. And she knows it, so she is moving forward with her life. She has the beginnings of a photography business; she has an eye for design and art. And I need to include the fact that she and her date went to the Senior Ball this year!

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