Some families assisted by the Friends of the Children Fund have graciously offered to share their stories.
Sophia Grace is our nine month old daughter who was born with Trisomy 21. In addition, she has two major heart defects – Atrioventricular Septal Defect and Tetralogy of Fallot. At four months of age, Sophia had a heart catheterization procedure at LeBonheur Hospital. Shortly following we learned that Sophia had to have open heart surgery to rebuild her heart. We went to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Texas for the surgery. We had to spend a month in Houston, Texas. We knew that she would need at least one blood transfusion and the hospital told us that when we arrived that we would need to donate blood for our daughter. There was a very short window of time in which the blood could be donated prior to the surgery and we did not have many people to call upon to donate blood who could be in Houston, Texas at that time. Dr. Gloria Kellum, Vice Chancellor for University Relations at the University of Mississippi and her staff notified the Ole Miss Alumni in the Houston area and many members of the Ole Miss Alumni group in Houston donated blood immediately in Sophia’s name. Also, upon learning of our situation, many of these same people opened their homes to us. The Friends of Children Fund allowed us to travel by plane with Sophia to Houston and gave us money for food and lodging as we needed it.
We were blessed by this donation. It meant so much to us to not have to worry about our expenses while we were in the hospital. The people of the University of Mississippi and the town of Oxford have opened their hearts to Sophia and our family and for that we are truly grateful.
The Friends of the Children Fund has been a blessing for me during times that I have needed to make trips to the doctors and hospital out-of-town for my son's treatment. It's hard to make these trips when you have to go more than once especially when things happen right away beyond regular scheduled appointments. With him, when his eye pressure goes up beyond a certain point, swelling and plus increased pain, the doctor tells me to get him in immediately and not to waste time. He has lost a great amount of his vision in one eye and the other eye is gradually going and this is due to the glaucoma. I do not always have funds on hand and as I said the Friends of the Children Fund has been a blessing. I encourage others to speak with Kim Shackelford to learn more about the Friends of the Children. This is a group worthy of supporting not only on the receiving end but also on the giving end.
Our daughter, Isabelle, was born with a rare skin condition called sebaceous nevus which covered her head and face. In the past seven years, Isabelle has undergone 15 surgeries and four rounds of tissue expanders. The surgeries have taken place at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.
Though the Friends of the Children Fund didn’t exist until Isabelle’s 13th surgery, for us thirteen really was our lucky number. The funds we received lifted an immense weight from our shoulders and eased our path considerably. Knowing we had help with our travel costs allowed us to truly focus on Isabelle and provide the care she needed.
As much as the financial support meant to us, though, just the existence of the Friends of the Children Fund speaks volumes about how much the Ole Miss Community cares about children and families like ours who are faced with special medical challenges.
Isabelle is old enough to understand all this now. When I told her about the Fund and what it does, she immediately wanted to donate all the money she had in her piggy bank. She knows from her own experiences what it means when people care enough to share.
I hope others will consider donating to the Friends of the Children Fund. We want any Ole Miss family who has a child that must travel for medical care to know, as we do, just how much this community truly does care.