Saturday, December 13, 2008

Old Friends and New

Ninth and Last in a Series

This was written, but not posted, before we left Ability Camp. Although we are now home, I wanted to introduce you to some of the people with whom we shared our adventure.

Old Friends and New

Well, we started our trip by spending some time with old friends, made new friends along the way, and will come full circle with another visit to old friends.

The Donnellys and the Prangley's were neighbors to Bob and Jan Cipriani and their boys when they lived in the Toronto area in the early 1970's for a few years. The time these families spent in geographic proximity was short but the friendships begun then have lasted to this day and include the children, now grown, with children of their own.

We had dinner Danny and Petra Donnelly and Susie Prangley in Whitby, on our way to Picton. Lizanne Donnelly lives in Wellington, near Picton, where she operates a bed and breakfast and owns a consulting business. We had dinner with her at the excellent Barley Pub. The pub is operated by the Waring House, the same place Terry and I celebrated Thanksgiving and got to see the "Guess Who" singer Colin Davis perform. Just like her brother Danny, Lizanne was a terrific dinner companion -- interesting and interested. We plan to see her again Thursday evening and then have breakfast with the Toronto crew on our way home Saturday morning.

We've come to know, in varying degrees, all the folks who are with us at Ability Camp. You know Eugenie's story from an earlier blog Each of the others has a story also marked by heartbreak and hope.

Kamryn, Jo-Lynn's daughter, (Thunder Bay, Ontario), drowned in the family pool and was clinically dead for twenty minutes before being revived. Doctors told her family she would remain in a vegetative state. Jo Lynne's dedication to bringing back the 22 month old little girl she had loved and lost changed that prognosis. Today Kamryn is aware of the world around her, can sit in her stroller chair to be fed, respond to the tone of your voice, give you a smile that will melt your heart, and clearly communicate displeasure. She's been to China for stem cell treatment and this is her third trip to Ability Camp. Here's an article from the local paper in Thunder Bay about Kamryn's trip --

Carrie and Andreas (Denver, Colorado) had every reason to expect a healthy child until, plans for a natural childbirth quickly became a Cesarean when, in the delivery room, the baby's heartbeat became irregular. Josiah was born with brain damage that resulted in hearing, vision, speech and motor development problems. The family believes he has shown significant progress here at Ability Camp but are at a loss as to how to afford further treatment. Their 18 month old daughter, Brianna, is healthy and beautiful. Seeing her every day is a special agony for Jo-Lynn who sees her Kamryn as she was before the accident.

Zahra and her husband Dr. Berhan Ahmed, traveled here from Melbourne, Australia, to get treatment for their daughter, Mona. (Can you tell Mona is somewhat shy?)

While he was here, Dr. Ahmed learned he had been named Melbourne's Australian of the Year for his work with the African refugee community. He is now one of nine candidates for Australian of the Year. Here's his bio from the award announcement:

Australian of the Year Finalists 2009

Dr Berhan Ahmed
African-Australian community leader
In 1987, Dr Berhan Ahmed came to Australia as a refugee from Africa with little English. He has since completed his PhD in Agricultural Science and is now a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Dr Ahmed has been instrumental in building bridges between the African and wider Australian communities. He has initiated a number of projects for Melbourne's African community to raise their standard of living, educational engagement and achievement, level of employment, and integration. He has personally supported many newly-arrived refugees, and actively inspired and encourages young people in shaping their own futures with a confidence that comes from a sense of pride in their identity and respect and trust of every Australian.

Zahra, who formerly worked as a financial advisor in Dubai, operates a day care center in Melbourne and hopes to establish a conductive education program in her community.

Then there's Donna and her roommate, Paula, from New Hampshire. We've spent the most time with them since they follow the same program as Terry. Donna suffered a hemorrhagic stroke brought on by high blood pressure. Her life was saved by an emergency craniotomy. Both are looking forward to getting back home to Paula's two grandchildren and their dog. You should have seen us at the kitchen table sharing dog and kid photos. I'm still trying to find one of Griz, the Cipriani's dog, to show off. I enjoy the time the four of us spend together.

These are just a few of the folks we met at Ability Camp. They and the others we met are extraordinary people who have dedicated their lives to making the life of another the best it can be.

My respect and admiration for each of these everyday heroes knows no bounds. I am grateful to them for giving my life a new perspective and amplifying my gratitude for the many blessings I enjoy.

You, my reader friend, are one of those blessings. Thanks for joining me during this adventure.

No comments: