"If you're going through Hell, keep going."
-Winston Churchill

May 18, 2011

Overdue Updates

I apologize for the lack of updates over the last couple of weeks, things have been quite crazy and hectic- overwhelming to say the least. Between Mother’s Day, fundraisers, benefits, outpatient therapy and daily life, it feels like my mind never finds the rare moment of rest. Before I get into this entry I want to briefly talk about why I began this blog. It began as a continuation of my CaringBridge Journal which my sister, Kristen, consistently updated during my four months in the hospital/rehab. Family, friends and people I’ve never even met followed me on my journey of recovery. Once I was back at home, I took the responsibility of updating people of my recovery myself. I decided to close the CaringBridge chapter, of the updates when my family did not know what was going to happen next; what my fate was to be; scary and sad moments that are far behind me. This blog was to start a new chapter of my journey. My recovery in my own words. Far away from ventilators, feeding tubes and pressure sores. Originally, my purpose of this blog was simply to update people of my progress, but as time has gone on, it has evolved into so much more. With this blog I aim to not only update people of new and exciting things happening in my recovery, but also to inspire others while continuing to be inspired; relate with those also in my situation; provide insight to the daily life of a person with a spinal cord injury; vent my aggression and express my concerns. While you may not agree or understand everything I say, I just ask for you to respect it. With that being said, let me jump into what has been going on in these last couple of weeks…

Although the Southern Belle fundraiser was to be completed Monday (5/16) we still have people calling trying to turn in orders. While we do not want to turn anyone away, at some point we have to stop postponing the order. The success of this fundraiser is phenomenal. I do not have a definite number for you yet, every time I ask Laura it has gone up, but it is definitely safe to say it is in the four digits. When we first began on this journey we thought how amazing it would be to sell 100 shirts. Needless to say, our success has been 10x that. Laura has truly been like an angel. Without ever having met me, she started and coordinated this entire fundraiser. Of course, neither Laura or I could have done this without the help of our new friend Brad Martin. Brad has not only publicized my story through WHIL, but has taken it upon himself to create and be the administrator of www.rehabforkaty.formyfriends.org. He has also been a big part of the behind-the-scenes organization with the T-shirt fundraiser. Sometimes, in today’s seemingly immoral society, you lose faith in mankind. Being a person with a spinal injury you definitely confront discrimination and prejudice. You realize how many people do not provide handicap accessibility. You instantly notice people of all classes and ages stare at you like you are sickly and if they get too close they’ll catch your disability. And God forbid if I have a muscle spasm. But since starting my Facebook page, the overwhelming amount of support and prayers from across the world has given me a new confidence that I thought I lost. Laura and Brad, I know you’re both reading this, your unselfish kindness has impacted my life more than I can ever express and for that I’m forever indebted to each of you. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this accident and events following has forever changed who I am. Prior to my injury I was “going nowhere fast.” Today, I have a sense of peace I never had before that hot June afternoon. Like my dear friend Karen Skeen said about herself, I also believe the same about me- “I have been a better person on 4 wheels than I ever was on my 2 feet” (though technically I am on 6 wheels). I am not going to lie, the situation is not a walk in the park by any means, but through it all I have realized my true inner strength. I have a new favorite quote that I truly believe summarizes everything I just said, “tough situations do not last, but tough people do.”

On another note, aside from the Southern Belle fundraiser there’ve been many other individuals who have taken it upon themselves to help raise money for me to go back to rehab. This past Saturday (5/14) a local band, Now or Never, organized a concert benefit in my honor at a local bar called Thunders Tavern. There were a few activities happening along the coast simultaneously, such as the Gulfport Music Festival and Smoking the Sound, but despite that it was a decent turnout. I was able to attend with my sister and a group of friends- it was quite the experience! In other fundraising news, Act Natural Photography in Hurley, MS, is currently looking for people interested in an Independence Day themed photo shoot. All proceeds would go towards helping me back into rehab. Anyone interested may find the business on Facebook at ActNaturalPhotography or visit http://actnaturalphotography.net. Also, Thirty-One Gifts by Brittany McKeel currently has a fundraiser going on until Tuesday, May 31st. Her store is located in Ocean Springs, MS, so if you decide to order and you are not local, please arrange to have it shipped directly to you. Her products are absolutely adorable, they include but are not limited to: totes, purses, bags, wallets, stationary and much more. If you are interested, please visit her site at http://www.mythirtyone.com/BrittanyMcKeel/.  In addition, Pamela Roberts Glenn with Designs by Pam has recently begun selling insulated tumblers. They sell for $13, plus a $5 shipping charge if you are not local. The deadline to order is Wednesday, June 1st. To find out more about the tumblers, log onto Facebook and search DesignsbyPam.

Last but not least, there is currently a River Run being organized for July 9th. It will be hosted by Sea Dawgs in Moss Point, MS. Let me briefly try to describe what exactly a River Run is as best as I can. - You can participate by boat or by car. It is like a poker game- You pay $50 for a ticket, you may have as many people as you want on a ticket, and if you win, the cash prize would be split between how many people are on that ticket. You will travel to each fishing camp where somebody will be waiting to pass out a card. This is not a race, so take your time, enjoy the weather, kick back and relax. It will end at Sea Dawgs in Moss Point. The person with the best hand will win a $500 cash prize. In addition, we are working on getting bands and musicians, arts and craft vendors, and food donations to have outside of Sea Dawgs throughout the day. If you or anyone you know would be interested, please get in touch with me ASAP at Katy.Blake@ymail.com. You can also find the event page on Facebook simply by searching for “Katy Blake River Run.” This is where all new and immediate details will be promptly posted.

I would like to take a minute to talk about the multiple fundraisers that have been going on. The Help Katy Back to Rehab Facebook page was originally created to bring awareness and publicize my story. All of the people who have coordinated these fundraisers have done so on their own accord, on their own time and energy. I am extremely grateful for each and every person who not only organized, but to all those who are participating in helping me get back to inpatient rehabilitation. I have a slight concern about people being bombarded with so many fundraising options happening all at once. Like I said, the creation of the Facebook page was for awareness, and while I am forever indebted to all those helping me fundraise, it was not my original intention. It is important to me that everyone knows how extremely grateful I am. A friend of mine said it best and I will use his quote now to end this topic, “I am looking for a hand up, not a handout.”

I have recently gained more media coverage as well. Last Friday I did an interview for WGUD, a local station here in Pascagoula. It will air tonight after 5 PM on channel 19. We do not know a specific time, so my mother has set the DVR recorder to tape between 5-11. Tomorrow I will skim through it and try to find my segment. Hopefully WGUD will allow me permission to post it online for those of you who are not local or who do not regularly watch channel 19. However, if they do not, then no worries. Doug Walker of WLOX is coming to my home Friday morning to interview me. This is the next step of generating more interest towards my story, the story of keeping great determination to overcome my obstacles and how I am using social media to spread awareness. As soon as I know when it will air, the time will be posted on Facebook. In addition, I will also ask their permission to post it online for those of you who are not local.

Friday will also prove to be an interesting day because my mother and I have a meeting that afternoon with the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation and Vocational Rehab all at the same time. The frustrations of our state programs and lack of communications between agencies is a whole other blog entry entirely. Just the thought of talking about it right now upsets me. But needless to say, Medicaid is absolutely ridiculous and I sincerely hope to expose that in the WLOX interview. I will dedicate another day to talking about the different departments in which we’ve had to contact each one to find out about different programs they offer. But in a nutshell, the meeting Friday will be about what I qualify for and how to get my full Medicaid benefits back. Once I have my full Medicaid, when the new fiscal year begins in July, I will be allotted another 30 days of inpatient care, that includes hospitalization or rehabilitation. I sincerely hope not to be hospitalized for any reason because I intend to use all 30 days for rehab. All of the money that has been donated and raised will also be used to buy extra time at rehab.

And finally, if you have stuck with me this far you deserve to know the most exciting news of all. The Sigma Nu chapter at Ole Miss has an annual philanthropy called the Charity Bowl. Each year in March, they host a Charity Bowl intramural where all the proceeds from ad sales, ticket sales, T-shirt sales, and a bid from the opposing fraternity will go towards the most deserving recipient who has been afflicted with paralysis. I am very honored and excited to tell you I will be the 2012 beneficiary of the Sigma Nu Charity Bowl. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for how thankful I am to have been chosen. Because of this, and the multiple fundraisers that are currently and in the process of happening, it looks like my dream of going to The Shepherd Center next year may come true after all. May God bless each and every one of you who has made this possible for me. Let me be proof you should never give up, no matter how big the goal you never know what can happen if you don’t try. While it has been almost a year since my accident, this is still just the very beginning of my journey.

1 comment:

  1. Katy with your words I started crying, you are such a beautiful person inside and out! You have become such an inspiration to those around you. I would personally like to say thanks because you have inspired me and many others, not to mention brought a certain passion back to my life! I cannot tell you what that means to me...Never give up is what you said! I hope people take those words to <3 heart! :) And as you said this is only the beginning...