Imagine a Better Life for Kody

 
Raised: $11,050.00
Goal: $50,000.00
 
 
 

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Stacey LaBrecque Cole

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Imagine a better life for Kody • Imagine the gentle child you raised becoming unpredictably violent to himself and others • Imagine your child refusing to come home and choosing to s... more

 
 
 
 
 
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Updated posted by Stacey LaBrecque Cole 24 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

Good evening.

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!

Love,
"Mom" & the LaBrecque and Cole families

 

 
 

Updated posted by Stacey LaBrecque Cole 4 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.

Stacey (“Mom”)

 

Kody's Official Honor Roll Certificate

 
 
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Created by Stacey LaBrecque Cole on May 14, 2013

Imagine a better life for Kody

• Imagine the gentle child you raised becoming unpredictably violent to himself and others

• Imagine your child refusing to come home and choosing to sleep on the streets. And, not knowing where they are or where their next meal is coming from

• Imagine desperately seeking every available type of help. And, then reading a therapist’s assessment that your child had been severely traumatized

• Imagine the pain you’d feel learning that they had suffered in silence for years and wondering what else you could have done

• Finally, imagine getting a call from a friend saying that your child allegedly committed a crime and had been arrested

• Imagine the gut-wrenching suffering your family would negotiate feeling that maybe being in jail was the safest place for your child and your community

I don’t have to imagine these things anymore. Now my family has lived through these pains.

Like many families in the U.S. we suffer from wounds that are not visible to others. When our son Kody was young he experienced unimaginable trauma that he did not share with us. As he grew older he began to demonstrate unpredictable anger and rage. He was out of control. We tried therapists, medications and even short-term residential care. We tried everything we knew to get him the help he needed, but we quickly ran out of options. As a middle class family, many programs were more expensive than we could afford and our earnings made us ineligible for public assistance. With your help Kody can begin to receive the treatment that he so desperately needs.

• Imagine a future for Kody where he has received the treatment he needs and has avoided being sent to prison.

• Imagine a future for Kody where he contributes to his community instead of being a liability to it.

• Finally, imagine a future for Kody where he is empowered to negotiate his mental and behavioral challenges in appropriate ways that are not harmful to him or others.

Your generosity can help make this possible.

If you would like more information, please feel free to email me directly at 4kodyssake@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


________________________

UPDATE: July 9, 2013:


Another goal of this site is to help raise awareness about the experiences of families negotiating raising a child with mental/behavioral challenges. Often these children, like Kody, have suffered trauma during the critical early development years. In Kody's case, two highly-respected mental health professionals have said that at this point the best (and really, only) way of treating his issues and helping him achieve success is through long-term (a minimum of two years) residential care.


I continue to envision those wonderful glimpses of charm, generosity and kindness that surface above the inner turmoil that Kody most undoubtedly suffers. My hope and prayers rest in whatever goodness I have nurtured in his upbringing – despite tremendous hardship – will help him conquer his understandably dark impulses and be able to heal and re-discover himself through residential treatment that he so desperately needs.


I have researched and met with representatives of several residential care facilities and learned that residential treatment can cost up to $100,000+ annually. Kody is not eligible for Medicaid and other programs, so our family is trying to minimize our costs and adjust our budgets to save as much as possible. We are willing to make these sacrifices to help Kody. Your contributions are making it possible for Kody to go directly into treatment and be released from the Juvenile Detention Center. We have a long road ahead of us.


There are no words to express my appreciation for all your prayers and support.


_______


UPDATE: Launch of New Campaign for Kody July 19, 2013


"A Few Dollars Can Make A BIG Difference” -Kickin’ It Up a Notch for Kody-

It is so common for individuals to think that in order to make a difference, you have to do something really big. Our souls know that the greatest way to make the biggest impact is actually in very simple terms. We make a difference when we see through eyes of love rather than through eyes of judgment. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a firm believer in the fact that it is the little things in life that truly matter. Because when you look back, they are actually the big things that really mattered the most.

I have come to the realization that this is a marathon; not a sprint. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” Little by little and one by one, we will get there. Thank you so very much for your consideration in participating in this campaign for Kody.

Below, you will see where I have provided some examples on why you may have decided to invest in this campaign for Kody. Feel free to add your own; I am looking forward to reading all of your comments!

I will kick this off this by making my own personal contribution of $5.00. Together, we can make a difference. Your turn…Go!

$5.00 ___ I believe in Kody $5.00 ___ I believe that Mental Health Issues are important
$5.00 ___ I once taught, cared for and/or mentored Kody.
$5.00 ___ I want Kody to know how much I care
$5.00 ___ I care about the future of our youth.
$5.00 ___ I believe that change is possible
$5.00 ___ I believe this will aid in efforts to lower our violence and prison rates
$5.00 ___ I believe in and admire the passion and dedication it requires for something like this to be successful
$5.00 ___ I have struggled with my own child
$5.00 ___ I believe in awareness and change
$5.00 ___ I believe in helping others and paying it forward
$5.00 ___ I believe individuals, children, & families should not have to suffer in silence
$5.00 ___ I want to make an impact on another person’s life
$5.00 ___ I believe in the duty we have as parents to fight and advocate for our children
$5.00 ___ I care about the safety of our community, our kids and those around me
$5.00 ___ I do not want to see another tragedy occur before it is too late
$5.00 ___ I share a similar story
$5.00 ___ I have a family member or friend who suffers from mental illness and/or behavioral issues
$5.00 ___ I, myself, suffer from mental illness
$5.00 ___ I personally know someone who suffers from depression, anxiety, trauma, and/or ___________.
$5.00 ___ I want to do my part to help avoid a suicide of another human life.
$5.00 ___ I do not believe our community invests enough into our mental healthcare system
$5.00 ___ I, myself, have been through a traumatic event
$5.00 ___ I have suffered or survived a crisis
$5.00 ___ I want to support those who live with disabilities
$5.00 ___ I simply just wanted to give
$5.00 ___ Because I do not want to be the only one who doesn’t give a buck (or five)! ;)
$5.00 ___ Other (please specify):_______________________


**I would like more information on how I can get help for myself, a family member or friend. This will be strictly personal and confidential. You are not alone.
I can be reached through the gofundme website or by email at 4kodyssake@gmail.com.**


“Even the smallest act of caring for another person is like a drop of water -it will make ripples throughout the entire pond...” ― Jessy and Bryan Matteo


To give you an idea of the impact your contributions will make, when combined with others, I have put together a couple of real-life scenarios:


• If 50 people were to invest $5, that would be enough to cover extensive therapeutic treatment for Kody in a residential facility for one entire day (24 hours of around-the-clock care).


• If 100 people were to invest $5, that would be enough to cover two days (48 hours of around-the-clock care) of extensive therapeutic treatment for Kody in a residential facility.


Thank you for your help in finishing up the first steps to Kody’s brighter future!


With Love and Admiration,
Stacey


 
 
 
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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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God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” - Hebrews 13:5-6

 

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