During Thanksgiving we join our families to dine together and give thanks for the past year's blessings. We stress over place settings, kiddie tables, turkey preparation and having enough food for all of our guests. We eat, we drink, we're merry, but how many of us give back to charities that really mean something to us? I recently gave to one such charity, and wish that others would take a moment during a season of excess to help those around them who are less fortunate.
This year, before I sit down to overindulge in a delicious Thanksgiving feast, I will remember a certain 8 year old boy who I can't stop thinking about. This eight year old boy will have a Thanksgiving that is worlds away from his past seven Thanksgiving holidays. This boy is Michael Stolzenberg.
Mikey, like most rugged 8 year old boys was an avid athlete, a lover of sunshine and outdoor activities who excelled at lacrosse and had just earned the starting quarterback position on his Pee Wee tackle football team. On July 22, 2008, Mikey's life changed.
Rushed to the emergency room with a bacterial infection that was not responding to antibiotics, Mikey's case quickly worsened. He went into septic shock and bravely endured a ventilator and dialysis for the next seven weeks where the staff at Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital made heroic efforts to keep one of the five sickest patients ever treated in their PICU alive and well.
Once the bacteria infecting Michael was finally identified as Chromobacterium Violaceum, the doctors were finally able to target it with effective antibiotics. As a true testament of his spirit, Mikey survived with his optimism, intelligence and wit; but the oxygen deprivation to his limbs could not be reversed, sadly resulting in the amputation of both of his hands and feet. Mikey's family had to come to terms with the realization that Mikey may not be able to use a computer, feed or dress himself, ride a bike or participate in the routine day-to-day activities as well as the athletic activities that he thrived on prior to his illness.
There is hope. With the help of certain prosthetic devices, Michael can not only regaining independence and a level of normalcy in his life, but he can enjoy physical activities and run and play again with all of the joy and passion he had before. Unfortunately, Mikey's prosthetics are not covered by his insurance. While basic prosthetics are covered for most amputees dealing with one amputation, Mikey is only 8 and dealing with four prosthetics that will need to be replaced bi-annually as he continues to grow.
This year we give thanks that Mikey is alive and continuing to flash his award winning smile, but we also pray that
Mikey's dreams of walking and running again have a chance to be fully realized.
For those who live in South Florida, please join us on our Walk for Mikey
Saturday December 6th 2008
at Tequestra Trace Park in Weston at 10am
For those who aren't near enough to participate in Miles for Mikey, you can still help. Open your hearts and give a donation, or sponsor someone who is able to walk for Mikey.
Together we can give this eight year old survivor his life back.
Please visit The Michael Stolzenberg Rehabilitative Trust for additional information and to make your donation today.