Wait! Please don't leave! I swear I won't ask you to throw a Tupperware party or buy cosmetics from me!
I have this friend. I've known her for more than a decade. She's a completely unique human being. I know no one else even remotely like her. I'm positive that I never will. She's an outspoken feminist, an advocate for the planet and for all of humankind. She has a razor sharp wit and generosity spills out of her every pore. She intends to leave the world a better place than she found it. I'm convinced that what the world needs the most right now is a million more "Amanda's".
When I struggled through some of the darkest days of infertility, she was the ultimate listening ear. She had battled it herself for some time, and listened to me drone and cry for hours on end. Her empathy and total compassion never wavered. Not once. When I finally got pregnant and faced the day-to-day anxieties of pre-term labor, bedrest and preeclampsia, she called me to check in...a lot. She mailed me funny things. She emailed me lists of books to read and movies to watch. She was a nervous pregnant lady's very best friend. Here's the truly amazing part...she did all of this just after she faced some of the most trying months and days that her life would ever throw at her.
I want to share her story with you. In her beautiful words. And then I"m going to ask for your help.
"If someone told me 10 years ago I would be studying to be a nurse today, I would have never believed them. I am now taking the leap from being an Associated Press award-winning reporter to nurse. So, how did I get here?
In 2008, I was pregnant with twins and felt my life was perfect – I had an occupation I excelled at and was getting ready to start my family. But then on Christmas Eve we found out that our daughter, Juliette, was dying. She not only had Down Syndrome, but had five holes in her heart, her heart valves were not formed properly and fluid from her chest cavity was gradually filling up her body and crushing her internal organs. Juliette passed away on New Year’s Eve 2008. It was a farewell to my naiveté that everything in life always works out. It was also the start of a new chapter that would lead me to a career in nursing.
Juliette was both a risk to me and to her twin brother, Holden. Throughout my pregnancy I was put on bed rest and highly monitored. During my time at various hospitals, I studied the nurses. These people were saving lives. One RN, noticed the book I was reading while I was going through one of my numerous fetal monitoring checks. She began to read the same book. She wanted us to have something to talk about and for me to get my mind temporarily off my troubles. She became my angel.
Giving birth to Juliette and Holden was the most bittersweet moment of my life. I cried with blissful joy as I held Holden and examined his petite features. I cried with a guttural pain as I held Juliette and stroked her thick dark hair for what I knew would be the only time. As a nurse, I can help high-risk pregnant women and their families. I will be able to take their hands and let them know they are not alone. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. My light is nursing and Montcalm Community College.
During my tenure at Montcalm Community College, my grades have been stellar. I am known as a serious and inquisitive student. I know firsthand how vital nurses can be to their patients. I also realize nurses are role models in the community. Last winter I was part of the 2012 Polar Plunge into Clifford Lake for Special Olympics. I was able to raise $1,500. This year, my friend Mara and I are taking the leap together - holding hands. For Juliette and for all Special Olympians. The waters are icy, but my heart is warm knowing I was helping out a worthy cause.
I want to lend a hand to others as nurses did to me. Nurses made me laugh through the tears and helped heal my shattered spirit. I wish to take Juliette’s life and turn it into a legacy through nursing. Her brief life will not be wasted, but will serve as a way to empower others. This is why I want to be a nurse."
So, this is why I'm here today, asking for your help. Amanda is one of those really rare souls. I'm utterly blessed to know her. And I don't doubt that beautiful Juliette is enormously proud of her incredible little family from whatever heavenly place she watches them from. My guess is that watching her crazy mommy jump into an icy lake on her behalf, dressed like a total maniac is probably one of the highlights of her year. Raising money in honor of Juliette for the Special Olympics is the perfect way to give back to a "giver."
If you're one of the many folks out there who pledged to do more kind things this year...To be better...To love more...This is the perfect opportunity to put your money where your mouth is. Quite literally.
Making an online donation couldn't be easier.
Just click this link & tell her that Jen sent ya:
I asked her if there was anything else that she wanted to add. And in classic Amanda-form she said something along the lines of, "Yeah tell them it was so cold that my nipples froze off. And a trout ate them."
Next up, I begin fundraising for her nipple-reattachment surgery...
Anyway, thank you for reading...and for donating...which I know you'll go do right now...
If you're not financially in a position to donate, please help me share her story and this link. Maybe you're old pals with Daddy Warbucks. What? It could happen...
There are real heroes among us. They don't wear jerseys or have reality shows. They're just really good people. Please help me lift up this everyday hero for a while...and all the brave warriors of the Special Olympics while we're at it.
Sometimes heroes wear a mermaid costume in single-degree temps...I'll bet you didn't know that.
***Don't leave me hanging here peeps...you're an amazing and supportive bunch! I know you won't let me down!***