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Aly & Melissa Health & Healing Fund

$27,752 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 360 people in 23 months
On Friday morning, June 30th,  17-year old Melissa and 5-year old Alina were involved in a tragic car wreck. Melissa was was taking her little sister to summer camp. They are as close as two sisters can be.
Melissa remembers waking up and trying desperately to get Alina (Aly) out of her car seat. She was too heavy; she was not moving.  She next remembers lying on the side of the road in the gravel with Aly next to her, yelling Aly's name. Aly was unconscious. 

Both girls were transported to UNC Hospitals. The bone in Melissa's knee was exposed and she had many other cuts and bruses, but incredibly, no broken bones. She was able to be sewn up, and released from the hospital that night with orders for physical therapy for her knee, neck and back. 

Aly was not so lucky. She suffered a severe brain injury and her right eye was injured. She is breathing on her own and her body is moving, however, she remains unresponsive. 
Aly is a remarkable girl. She is strong, determined, and deeply kind.  About two weeks ago, Aly was again complaining to her Mom about brushing her hair. It bothered her. It took too long. This was a battle they often had. Her mother would frequently suggest that she get a haircut to make it easier. Aly always refused. She loved how her long hair looked. Just like her big sister, Melissa. This time, her mother offered a different solution. She told Aly about Locks of Love. The organization that allows you to donate your hair to someone who is fighting cancer. Aly's beautiful bright eyes grew even brighter. She jumped at this option and was excited to cut her hair if it meant helping someone else.  Again, Aly is only five.

Aly and Melissa's parents, Violeta and Juan, have strong faith and believe that Aly will wake up at any minute. They are staying by her side, right where they should be and there really is no telling how long Aly's healing will take.
Violeta and Juan are hourly wage earners and have not been working since the accident. They are wonderful people and they have a beautiful family (they have a 10-year old son, Juan, also). 

We ask you to consider helping this family as they face an extreme and heartwrenching situation. They have no income to support their family as they stay by the side of sweet Aly. They also face medical expenses related to Melissa's recuperation and healing.

Life can change in an instant and we all know that we would hope others would come to our aid if we were to find ourselves in need.  The doctors believe that it's possible that Aly can hear the voices of those around her. If that's true, these wonderful parents shouldn't need to decide between being by their daughter's side while she's in need and leaving to make ends meet at this crucial time.  Let's help make it possible for them to be where they are most needed. 
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Greetings Friends-

I am writing to provide an update about the Ramirez family who, with your help, are resuming "normal life" activities as much as possible after life handed them such an extreme and unexpected trauma this summer.

Aly is back from Charlotte. Violeta is doing an amazing job as both Mother and Case Manager. She takes Aly to regular appointments to see an opthamologist, psychologist, neurologist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, and more. It's a lot to coordinate, to be sure.

Aly is doing really well, all things considered. The main issues she continues to struggle with are a lack of ability to maintain attention and issues with focusing her eyes (coordinating them to work in concert with each other). She is also quite easily irritated. The hardest thing for Aly (and her family) is the fact that she is severely restricted from physical activity for an entire year for fear of jostling anything in her brain as it continues to heal. Of course it is super hard to keep a five year old from running, jumping, or doing just about anything so the family has their hands full keeping her busy and otherwise entertained.

Due to this restriction, there was a lot of discussion as to where Aly, a rising kindergartener, should be placed in school this year. Some felt she should be in a special-needs classroom where she could be more carefully monitored. Others felt she would do better in a regular classroom setting surrounded by those who are closer to where she is on an educational level. After much discussion with various doctors and educators, it was decided that she be placed in the latter with an Individual Educational Plan (now pending) so that she can be closely monitored within a regular classroom.

Melissa is also back at school, a senior at Middle College High School, where she is taking an impressive load of college classes. She continues to have back pain for which she has acupuncture and physical therapy appointments. Additionally, she continues working with a therapist on the emotional trauma related to the accident.

Thanks to the continued generosity of incredible people like you, Violeta is returning to work a few days a week and is home when Aly gets out of school each day- able to coordinate and manage her appointments in the afternoons. Juan is already back at work and Juanito started in 5th grade last week at the same school as Aly.

The Ramirez family are uniquely close and are driven by their faith. Aly, Melissa, Violeta, Juan and Juanito send deep gratitude to each of you for kindness and continued thoughts and prayers.

Sincerely,
Holly Baddour
First day at school!
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Greetings all-

Aly continues to make grand strides ahead in her health and healing.

Apologies for not providing an update before now but I've been out of town and unable to visit with Aly myself. I hope to see her soon, but in the meantime, I want you to know that she is doing great!

The family is very pleased with the resources at Levine's Children's Hospital in Charlotte. Aly is now walking on her own (for the most part) and able to interact beautifully both verbally and physically. Her primary challenge relates to issues of concentration and focus.

While she was initially registered to stay for a full month and then be reevaluated for continued treatment, she has made such amazing progress, there is talk of her coming home in early August!

These incredible and unexpected leaps are astounding and reflective of her resilience, strength, and resolve. Moreover, they show the power of the love and support which surrounds sweet Aly. First and foremost, she draws strength from her phenomenal family who has been able to stay right by her side thanks to the generous contributions of each of you. Secondly, she and her family are held up by the larger community who has been sending her prayers of love and light every single day.

Keep those wonderful prayers and good thoughts coming!

And for those that are local, please take a moment to check out the Take Them a Meal page as we are continuing to seek support for the family through donated dinners. http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=ESGL6350&v=b7abe7e4b3 Violeta's wonderful mother is staying in Chapel Hill to care for Melissa and Juanito while Violeta and Juan stay in Charlotte with Aly. She doesn't drive and therefore could use the help with meals a few times a week.

Enormous gratitude to all for your continued love and support of this terrific family.

Holly Baddour
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Look up in the air! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's... ALY!!!

From baby steps, to leaps and bounds, Aly seems on the verge of flight with the strides she is making every hour of everyday. It's honestly hard to keep up with her progress. Suffice it to say, her momentum and trajectory are onward and upward and it's astounding to behold.

Latest news:

No Feeding Tube!
Ally is eating sufficiently on her own such that she will not require the insertion of a feeding tube after all. This is a huge relief for every reason you can imagine. She moved in one day from clumsily trying to swallow from a spoon to being a pro with a straw on her own. She is now ingesting the nutrients she needs in a day with the help of Pediasure and pureed foods.

Locks of Love
Aly proceeded with her pre-accident dream, to donate her hair to someone who has cancer through the Locks of Love organization. She smiled wide at the thought with a face that is becoming more expressive by the day. Her mother cut her long lovely braids on Wednesday and Aly seemed pleased with the results (see pictures).

First Steps
With the help of a physical therapist taking some of her weight, Aly maneuvered her way out of bed on Wednesday and took her first steps. It was of course exhausting for her, but important to begin coordinating her body again.

Charlotte Bound
Aly will be transferred to Levine's Children's Hospital in Charlotte, an establishment well-known for pediatric rehabilitation, on Thursday (July 13th) to dive deeper into her therapeutic needs (a program not offered at UNC).

Thanks to You
Because of the extraordinary community that has emerged and embraced this phenomenal family, and due to your generous contributions, Juan and Violeta are traveling with Aly and will be able to stay by her side during this important time. THANK YOU FOR HELPING US MEET OUR GO FUND ME GOAL!!!!

If you'd like to help in a different way and you live locally, Violeta's mother will be arriving tomorrow to support Juanito and Melissa. Violeta's mother does not drive so we are welcoming the continued help with meals, but will soon be slowing the frequency: http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=ESGL6350&v=b7abe7e4b3

Calls for Continued Love
The sudden and shocking accident on June 30th knocked the wind out of the Ramirez Family. Although they are one of the strongest, most faith-driven, courageous and positive families I've ever met, they have a ways to go before they get back on their feet and find their balance.

Aly specifically has quite a journey ahead of her. She has surprised us all with her progress thus far and we hope and believe she will continue to do so. Melissa has her own journey back to wellness both physically and emotionally following such a major trauma.

I know you join me in continuing to keep these girls in your hearts and prayers in the coming days, weeks, and months as they continue to knit back together and heal.

The two families who have been housing Aly's siblings since the accident (Juanito with the Yerenas and Melissa with the Baddours) will happily continue to stay very involved and assist with logistics and support while Violeta and Juan are with Aly.

Additionally, we know from watching Melissa's key role in Aly's healing thus far (and vice versa) that keeping all the siblings in touch and seeing each other is important. We will facilitate trips to Charlotte on a regular basis.

Going Forward
Updates going forward will likely slow a bit now as Aly heads to Charlotte for this next important chapter. We will stay in touch when we have major information to share but for now, please know that no news is good news.

With love and the deepest gratitude,
Holly Baddour
Sweet Aly with her new 'do
Locks of Love!
Charlotte-bound
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REJOICE!
We are breathing a great many sighs of relief due to Aly's progress over the past 24 hours.

STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE AND SAY Ahhhh...
It started with a doctor asking Aly to stick out her tongue. She responded. A very good sign. It is an act that requires a lot of processing and effort. In the hours that followed, Aly began nodding her head in response to questions. She blew kisses, reached out for hugs, and waved goodbye.

Perhaps most incredibly, this afternoon, she spoke. A visitor asked her how she was doing and she replied, "Bien". Her mother then asked what her name was and she responded, very slowly, "Alina Ramirez" . And finally, she smiled. It was the first sign of emotion she has shown since the accident. Unsurprisingly, that smile was in response to her sister, Melissa, playing with her.

There has been some question as to whether or not she could see due to the damage to her eye, but today, when her mother asked if she could see who was in the room, she mentioned one of the people present by name. Another sigh of relief.

All of this progress is under the aid of a brain stimulant, which the doctors are increasing and is likely responsible for the increase in activity. However, as the swelling in her brain decreases, and the blood reabsorbs, more and more of Aly reemerges. It is tremendous to behold.

Do you remember how she protested to getting her hair brushed out by her mother? And as a 5-year old she was ready to donate her hair to Locks of Love? Well, that wonderful part of her reemerged today as well. As her mother tried to wash and clean her hair, she was very bothered by it all such that now she sits, with half her hair braided, and half not. We celebrate that fighting spirit!

All of this wonderful news said, she still has a very long way to go. It remains to be seen what kind of cognitive impairment Aly may be facing. Her family is quick to note that overall, Aly still remains asleep and not engaged. Additionally, she will have a feeding tube placed in her stomach tomorrow. Although feeding by mouth is being attempted, it is not successful at this time - not enough to sustain her. The pediatric rehabilitation center will be key in helping her heal. It is looking likely that she will be transferred by the end of this week. Arrangements are also being made for Violeta's mother to fly here to stay with Melissa and Juanito so that Violeta and Juan can be with Aly during this crucial time.

The on-going support, love and warmth that is emerging and surrounding the Ramirez family is palpable. Each of you is part of a heartwarming and powerful force, giving them strength, love and nourishment. Please continue to hold them in your hearts.

Thank you.
Aly's First Smile
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$27,752 of $25,000 goal

Raised by 360 people in 23 months
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