Updated posted by Stacey LaBrecque Cole 20 days ago
Good afternoon, everyone.
I hope this finds each and every one of you doing well and living life to its fullest.
I have been asked a lot about Kody and how he is doing. Thank you. I do have an update for you. Kody remains at the Devereux Treatment Facility in Kennesaw, Georgia. He is definitely where he needs to be for right now. He has been struggling emotionally quite a bit lately and continues to struggle with following rules and accepting responsibility for his actions. He continues to receive around-the-clock care and treatment for trauma. Academically, he is a super star; he goes to school every day and makes great grades. He has overcome a lot of challenges and I am very proud of him. I will continue to pray that God gives him the strength to endure; there is still a long road ahead of him. I made a tough decision not too long ago - one that did not allow Kody to come home for Spring Break. I did not feel he was ready and I had to be honest with myself - I am still not ready. Tough love is the hardest thing to follow through with. My instincts told me this was the right decision to make so I went with it. Trust your instincts.
I have to be honest with you all. What really inspired me to write this update is because of an act I so strongly and passionately believe in...now more than I ever have. Pay It Forward. Had it not been for all of you..each and every one of you, I am not sure I would have made it through such gut-wrenching hard times.
I am helping with a campaign for students in the College of ACES at the U of I. It is entitled: "I Pay It Forward: Students Helping Students Scholarship Campaign." This has been one heck of a rewarding experience for me personally. We launch on April 1 and run through the month of April. We have hundreds of students on board and it has given me hope and a place to feel like I am giving back to others because of all that each of you have done for me.
Please know that you all inspired me to assist in getting a campaign like this going as a way to show my appreciation for what was done for me and my family. Now it's my turn to help make a difference in the lives of others. I have done what I can for Kody; now it is time for me to spread the good by paying it forward. The prayers, time, personal messages, shoulders for my tears, commitment and money you all gave to help me, our family, and our son, Kody, is simply something that can not be repaid. However, it can be reinvested :) And that is exactly why I am sharing this with you. Please know that had it not been for all you, I would not be who I am now.
The College of ACES and the entire University of Illinois family stood (and continues to stand) by my side throughout this excruciating experience with Kody. However, my son is alive (and receiving professional treatment) and I am now healing because of the warmth and support I received from literally hundreds of people on this campus. My amazing boss, Meg Cline, and my ACES Advancement colleagues pushed me through and backed me 100%. And to this day, they continue to do that for me. Thank you, Meg, Kim Meenen, Jeremy Robinett, Paulette Sancken, Felix Madera, Angie Barnard, Marla Todd, Marise Robbins-Forbes, Toni McMullen, Carol Lindholm, Denise Dalton, Dot Gordon, Tina Hillard & Barry Dickerson. And thanks to the rest of my College of ACES and U of I family. I have truly enjoyed being a part of this family for over 15 years.
President and Mrs. Bob and Cheryl Easter - You will likely never know the IMPACT you have had on my life. Thanks for asking about Kody whenever you see me. President Easter- when we were in Chicago for the University's big Advancement Retreat - and you gave your speech at the end of our lunch, you made an impact on me that day that you likely are not even aware of. You came up to me (and, of course, waited for me to finish talking:) and I can tell you exactly what you said to me: "Hi Stacey, how is Kody?" It was really tough to hold back my tears. With all that you have going on as President, you went out of your way to ask ME how my son was doing. I have always admired and respected you, but it was then that I knew how big your heart was. Thank you; I am so blessed to know you and Cheryl. Thanks for inspiring me in so many ways.
Mom, Dad, Elyne, Terry, Terrilyne, Nikki and Kate: T.C., Kody, Jazzmine, Tre and I could not ask for a more amazing family. Thanks for helping us as we continue to work through our grief.
Thanks to each and every one of you who are reading this, from the very bottom of my heart and soul, for caring so much that you put me and my family in front of yours in whatever way you did. I will NEVER forget this.
It is now my turn to show my appreciation for all of you...
Tomorrow, April 1, the U of I's College of ACES Student Advancement Committee (SAC) will officially launch our "I Pay It Forward: Students Helping Students Scholarship Campaign" to the rest of our ACES family. We hope to inspire a culture of philanthropy that expects and inspires giving; where we help others by coming together to be an asset to our community, our college, & our university by ensuring that others who have worked so hard to be at our land-grant university have that same opportunity and access to this world-class institution. As a result of your influence, you create a legacy and impact that ripples forward. Congratulations, in advance, for becoming stakeholders in the future success of your university and for allowing the college and university to be a stakeholder in yours. The payoff for you will be significant.
Kody, thanks for being my personal inspiration behind paying it forward. This one's for you, bud. I hope it makes you proud. Love, Mom.
Updated posted by Stacey LaBrecque Cole 3 months ago
Today is a very special day. One that brought me all the way down to Georgia (and saved me from all the terrible weather Illinois is now having!) 18 years ago today, I gave birth to a sweet baby boy with a head full of white hair and sparkling blue eyes. The nurse at Carle told my mom and I that he had been "kissed by an angel."
I am happy to be spending quality time with Kody and he is more than excited to be spending this special day with his mommy. :)
The past 18 years have been challenging and amazing at the same time. As a 19 year old single parent with a newborn, how could it not be?
Kody and I have been doing a lot of reflecting today; many laughs have take place. Hard times have come up too and we have talked at length about his ability to break the cycle and live a long, healthy and productive life. He has an opportunity of a lifetime here in Georgia and I am so impressed at his willingness to make the most of his situation.
Not all wounds are visible - mental illness is very much real. Depression is real..as is anxiety...domestic violence....childhood abuse and trauma...lack of positive role models....and the list goes on and on. Instead of turning the other cheek, Kody and I chose to face this head on as if there was no other way. Our entire family has suffered immensely through times of trials and tribulations...our friends have watched us spiral downhill emotionally as we faced all of these unexpected, life-changing and dreaded circumstances. Tough decisions had to be made because we believe that not only is Kody worth it, but everyone is deserving of second chances and a shot at a good life regardless of any judgments placed upon them.
Life holds no guarantees for any of us. God decided that I was the one who deserved to have Kody and that I could handle any and all things that came our way. The positive memories far outweigh all we have overcome together.
Happy 18th birthday, Kody! Thanks for the wonderful, silly, and hilarious memories that I will hold close to my heart forever. I look forward to the next 18 years and watching you mature and grow into a responsible, productive and happy young man. We realize this is a lifelong journey; it does not end once Kody turns 18 or released from treatment. But we are in it for the long haul.
I look forward to keeping you updated on Kody's progress. If you are facing a similar situation, please know that you are not alone. BUT be nice to everyone as you never know what they are dealing with on the inside. Thanks to all of you for helping us get to where we are. We simply could not do this without your friendship and support.
Happy Birthday, bud!
"Mom" & the LaBrecque and Cole families
Updated posted by Stacey LaBrecque Cole 3 months ago
Hello again! It’s been a little while!
My apologizes for taking so long to post an update. We have been trying to get back to some type of normalcy – whatever that means! Life is … well, if I’m being honest - some days life is fantastic; and other days life is still difficult. But it’s definitely a little more manageable. We, as parents, don’t ever stop worrying about our children just because they aren’t with us. It is ESPECIALLY when they are not with us.
Positive news! Kody is doing well. I am most proud to report to you all that he made straight A’s and was recognized for making it onto the academic honor roll. When he mailed his official certificate to me (surprise!), I paused- I was so deeply proud. Since Kody was little, he has always known that it takes something really special to make it to the front of the refrigerator. He says to me, “Mom, I finally made it back to the front of the refrigerator!”
When Kody and I discussed this major accomplishment and turn-around over the phone (we generally speak about once to twice per week) he said there was something he was most proud of. He said “mom, when they called out my name for the honor roll, I just sat there like I couldn’t believe it. The very first thing that popped in my head was…….all of those people out there who invested in ME and gave their money to help me….now they can feel like it wasn’t all for nothing. You can tell them that it was worth it now. I only accomplished this because they believed in me.” Again, another proud moment for me. That’s the kid I know and remember. I almost feel the need to tell you that I am not making this stuff up; he actually said that.
Emotionally and behaviorally, it is one step forward; two steps back. Such is life. Kody attends weekly intensive trauma therapy where they work on safe and appropriate coping skills and then actually putting those skills into practice. Each week, this continues to get more and more difficult, but Kody is a strong kid and he will be so grateful for this unbelievable gift/opportunity to grow, learn and mature.
Overall, he has great days and then some days are a little more tough to get through, but he’s a trooper. He feels sad when he thinks about all he is missing here and he worries about people forgetting about him. However, he has found comfort in taking on several leadership opportunities and is working towards becoming a mentor to some of the younger children there (some kids are as young as 4).
I am sure those following our journey are wondering about the holidays. For Thanksgiving, my amazing mom drove down to see Kody. He spent the day with my mom and my sister & her family. We were on Facetime and/or talked several times throughout the day. For Christmas, Kody will go to my sister’s house again. I am staying home with my family. Although Kody was upset to hear that, he definitely understands. It will be tough on all of us to be without Kody for Christmas for the first time ever, but we also remember that he is still here with us and we have many more Christmas’ to celebrate together. A little reminder about the meaning of Christmas helped as well. ☺
Kody will celebrate his 18th birthday on January 4. I will be heading down south to see that!
I would like to again thank each and every one of you for hanging in here with us. Your cards, your notes, your messages, your texts, your questions, your deep and compelling stories, your continued support…they all mean so much to me and to our family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And a special thank you from Kody.
Congratulations on your remarkable academic success, Kody. You’ve made it back to the front of the refrigerator for all to see (a photo is included with this message). We already knew you were worth it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.
Created by Stacey LaBrecque Cole on May 14, 2013
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Kody, Hang in there kiddo. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. For all of us, not only you, we take a one step then another and so forth and so on every day. If you believe in that man that your mother sees and that you know you are; things will get better day by day. I look forward to meeting you someday. Best, Jack
posted by Jack Pizzo 9 months ago
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