Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa is over 19,000 feet into the sky and I am going to climb it during the first week of October. When I made my decision to climb the mountain, the first thought that came to my mind was my younger sister, Kate. She has been my inspiration from the day she arrived on this planet, so I am running this charity campaign to raise money, in honor of Kate, for United Cerebral Palsy.
Shortly after Kate was born, we found out that she had Cerebral Palsy, right hemiplegia. We were told she would never walk, talk, or crawl. That, however, did not stop my family from hoping, nor did it stop Kate from doing things she wanted to achieve. As a child, she went through numerous surgeries and constant occupational and physical therapy. In elementary and high school, she was part of the special education system and last spring, she graduated with a college degree, A COLLEGE DEGREE!
As an adult, there are fewer and fewer resources for her. Cerebral Palsy is not a disease, it's not something you "get over", it is a congential disorder that cannot be cured. It affects the right side of Kate's physical body, and aspects of her left brain, including analytical thought, logic, and language. It is part of who she is, it is part of who our whole family is.
I would like to dedicate this climb to my special sister. Below is an essay titled, "My Special Sister," that I wrote a few months after she was born, when I was nine years old. It got published in the book, Cerebral Palsy, A Complete Guide for Caregiving, written by her doctor, Freeman Miller and others:
'All my life I wanted to have a sister! I imagined her to be my best friend. I always wanted to have somebody there when I needed them. I wanted somebody to hug, to laugh with, and to be myself with. I wanted a special closeness with my sister. Kind of like we always had a secret together. A sister would be with me all my life.
My dream came true!!! I did get a baby sister. Her name is Kathleen. She fooled us all by being born on April first. I was so happy my insides were jumping all around. I made a big colorful picture for her to look at in her crib.
When I held her for the first time I felt my heart melt because we loved each other so much!
In a short time we found out that Kathleen had cerebral palsy. It's only on her right side. Her arm and leg don't work too well. So we do therapy with her! I am learning a lot about how our body works so I will be able to help her! She and I work well together. She listens to me, I listen to her. And that's the way it will be all our lives.
Kathleen is more special that I ever thought she could be. I hug her, I laugh with her, and we already have secrets together. She is very special.'
She has always been and continues to be my inspiration, especially now with my challenge in climbing one of the world's tallest mountains.
Please help me by supporting United Cerebral Palsy. Any donation is helpful and appreciated greatly.