On Thanksgiving Day, a friend from England reached out to us to ask if we would offer tea and sympathy to her friend who had traveled from England to the Children's Hospital here in St. Louis. Cath is here at the end of a long road bringing Eliana, her 2-year-old with cerebral palsy to the hospital for an operation that will enable her to walk and prevent her disability from confining her to a wheelchair. Cath has raised nearly $130,000 to pay for the operation and the treatment that will follow. She is a teacher for special needs children, and she and her husband have mounted a superhuman effort to give Eliana every chance for mobility, launching fundraisers of every kind under the website Eliana's Wish to Run (you can see reports of these at www.elianaswishtorun.co.uk.) So we contacted Cath and we had a lovely Thanksgiving morning together.
It was an honor to be able to provide Cath with a break from the hospital and some regular family life in our kitchen as we prepared our share of the family Thanksgiving dinner. She told us about the dinner fundraisers, and the walk fundraisers, and how her older daughter's school, St. Ronan's in England, produced a video of their singing "Somewhere Only We Know" which went to the top of the children's iTunes charts in England: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6c3JcjaqBes. Most of all, we were impressed by how with every piece of daunting news, Cath and her husband Ray knuckled down and worked out what they had to do to overcome the next barrier to make Eliana's life as good as it could be.
The good news is that Eliana had the operation on November 22 and is steadily learning to walk more freely. The SDR operation was a huge success and the St. Louis Children's Hospital is working its magic: there is every reason to hope that Eliana will be able to walk for life. The terrible news is that Cath has just learned that her baby son, Charlie (who sadly also suffers from cerebral palsy) will also need the operation, and when she gets home, she will not only have to face the long term rehab for Eliana but have to start fundraising again, this time for Charlie.
We sat eating our turkey, giving our thanks for family and health, and realized that we all wanted to help this lovely family. But we knew we did not have the resources to do it alone. So we are turning to our community and asking you to join us. If ever there were a time to show how lucky we are to be in St. Louis with our amazing hospital and our kind people, it is today. It is our hope that you will also see this as a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate who we are as a people, and as a city. We are asking St. Louis to come together, to show this family who have been burdened with so many difficulties, that they are not alone, that they have come to a city that cares, a city that respects their utter commitment to their children, and their wish to look beyond the confines of what is possible in their country to seek what is possible in ours. This family has asked nothing of us but we have the opportunity to give them their dearest wish. Please, please join us in helping Charlie to chase his sister around the garden.
Right now we are asking for any help you feel able to give towards Charlie's operation. Any money we raise beyond that sum will go towards helping other children in need of this life-changing operation.
In addition, just as the school in England rallied around the family, we are going to be making a response video of the school children in St. Louis adding their voices to the cause. We are hoping to show the world that the people of St. Louis can be as generous as those of a small town in England. You will see from the original video that the point is that people can help if they come together. Since Eliana's campaign was called Eliana's Wish to Run, we have called ours Charlie Wants to Catch Her. Forsyth Elementary School, MICDS, and Washington University students have all committed to helping us in recording "I'll Stand by You" by Rachel Platten to bring attention to our cause.
We will update the website with a link to the recording and the video as soon as it is finished, but Charlie needs his operation in October so we are starting our fundraising now. Please consider joining our efforts.
Please join us: A little help from a lot of people will make all the difference.