Burn survivor Autumn Hamilton

$144,272 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,885 people in 5 months
Created April 29, 2018
Fundraising team
on behalf of Dave Hamilton
Autumn Hamilton, 16 years old, of Lombard, IL, was an unfortunate burn victim in the Glendale Heights bonfire accident on April 28, 2018.

http://wgntv.com/2018/04/29/explosion-at-suburban-bonfire-injures-at-least-8-teens-some-seriously/

Autumn is currently at Loyola Medical Center Burn Unit on life support. She sustained 3rd degree burns to the majority of her body, especially to her face. Doctors have her in a medically induced coma. She has undergone multiple surgeries so far to relieve pressure in her face and arms. 

Autumn has has a long road ahead of her! She will require countless surgeries, facial reconstruction, therapy, rehabilitation, etc.

Please help support her and her family so she can get the treatment she desperately needs. 29519610_15250508460_r.jpeg
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AutumnStrong October 3, 2018 - The Home Stretch
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — Oct 3, 2018

Good evening Autumn Strong family! It has been too long since I have had the privilege of writing about our beautiful hero Autumn. The 5-month mark since the accident has already passed. Over that time there have been plenty of ups, downs and what ifs. But there has been one constant from day one- the strength, determination and drive to overcome any and all obstacles by Autumn.

With her family by her side, Autumn has become a beacon of strength and an inspiration to her own family, friends, community, nurses, doctors, fellow patients and people across the country who have heard her story. Autumn is the beautiful, bright rainbow through an otherwise stormy time.

Her latest accomplishment has been enduring a series of surgeries that saw successful skin grafts on her neck. She is healing well and has been given some very exciting news. The surgeons and staff at Shriners have indicated to Autumn and Jackie that they could be heading home to Lombard soon. While no specific date has been given, it is certainly a bittersweet time for Autumn, Jackie and the staff and patients who have become more like a family than either could have imagined.

Autumn has made many friends with people all over the hospital. There are two young ladies who will make Autumn's eventual trip home especially difficult. Her roommate, Karen, is a 16-year-old girl from Mexico City and Korin, is a 13-year-old girl from Louisiana have spent countless hours together. The girls have formed an unbreakable bond and friendship that Autumn knows will endure regardless of time or distance.

The Shriner team anticipates that Autumn will be back to visit her Galveston family in January for some follow-up procedures.

The entire Hamilton family is immensely thankful for everyone's support and love through this process. And while they realize that people will be eager to welcome the family home, they are asking that everyone respect their wishes and allow the family time to settle in at home. The family will be undertaking several adjustments while trying to establish a routine and schedule. Autumn will still be healing while continuing her therapy and school at home. The doctors have advised that additional stimulation can adversely effect her recovery progress.

No one is anticipating the arrival of Autumn and Jackie more than Autumn's father, David, and her sister, Brooke. It cannot be easy to have half of your family more than 1,000 miles away for more than two months. Thankfully, that special kind of strength runs in the family. Brooke and David used that strength to successfully hold down the fort in Lombard. Both have worked hard to transform the house to prepare for the return of Autumn and Jackie.


Now, anyone who has met Autumn knows that she is a polarizing and fascinating young lady. People seem to just gravitate towards her no matter where she goes. Nothing changed when she stepped foot into Shriners. As a matter of fact, her hard work and dedication to recovery seemed to amplify her influence. Throughout her therapy, doctors and staff marveled at her progress and willingness to push herself. But the biggest impact seemed to from the other young patients at Shriners. Autumn was so inspirational and has such a magnetic personality, that Shriners asked Autumn to be part of their Patient Ambassador Program. She humbly accepted the role which could allow her to travel to meet other burn survivors and share her story, her experience and eventual triumph with them in the future.

One of the best things about all these accolades and attention is that Autumn never intended for this to happen. She never put on a show or advocated to be an inspiration. Autumn just worked hard and naturally exuded compassion as she befriended staff and fellow patients. It is no surprise that Autumn is so willing to give back to others. Her mother, Jackie, has been the paradigm of sacrifice and selflessness at her side everyday.

Finally, we would like to share a special event in Autumn's honor by her incredible cousin, Megan!


We are super excited to share that Autumn’s cousin Megan has spearheaded a 5k in her honor which will tentatively take place next fall. Thanks to the University of St Francis (Joliet, IL) Track Team - Megan’s hope to start a local 5k to support Burn Survivors is becoming a reality! Currently there are only 3 such events across the United States - none are held in the Midwest. “SURVIVING AUTUMN STRONG 5K” will be the first of its kind in our area and proceeds will be donated equally between Autumn, Loyola Burn Unit and Shriners Burn Hospital for Children! It is our families hope that the “Surviving Autumn Strong 5k” will be held yearly and each year Autumn will select the individual recipient to receive the funds. Be on the look out next spring for registration information once the date and location have been finalized!

Thank you for continued love, support and prayers! We will continue to share updates as information becomes available.

Have a great week and remember to stay #AutumnStrong!
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HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY
Journal entry by Stacy Krisch — Sep 21, 2018

Hello Autumn Strong FAMILY - today is a day to CELEBRATE!!! We Celebrate Autumn, a BRAVE young woman who turns 17 today, and despite the circumstances she is in, continues to find the positive moments to motivate herself and push through the daily challenges she faces with grace! HAPPY 17th BIRTHDAY - to the STRONGEST, BRAVEST, Girl I know ❤️❤️



We also celebrate Autumn’s Uncle Dan who chose this day to marry his best friend Melissa, and begin their life journey as husband and wife! It is bitter sweet as Autumn celebrates from afar today and sends all of her love and well wishes to her new Aunt Melissa and cousin Gannon. As we know that Autumn is always in everyone’s thoughts and prayers - today please know that Uncle Dan, Melissa, Molly and Gannon - You are in Autumns thoughts today - and she wants you to know how much she loves you and wishes she were there to personally help celebrate your special day!



Yesterday was Autumns third surgery since our last update. As the surgical staff serenaded Autumn, singing Happy Birthday to her, Jackie walked away under the impression that the team (lead by Dr. Branski) was only going to do a simple wound vac change and wait for her primary plastic surgeon (Dr. Norbury) to perform her skin graft next week - shortly after beginning the procedure Jackie was paged to the conference room to meet the surgeon as he grinned from ear to ear telling her that “Autumns skin is in Pristine condition and perfectly healed; she is ready to do the skin graft today” - so there was no waiting until next week! In true Autumn fashion she healed better than expected and was ready to move on! We celebrate this as it means Autumn is one week closer to being able to come home - something her and Jackie are eagerly anticipating!! Although no date has yet been discussed - it is their hope that possibly a discharge date will be given in the next few weeks time.



Today, Autumn is quietly celebrating her Special Birthday surrounded by her Aunt Kelle and Cousins Nila, Ana and Olivia and dear friend Hannah! As Hannah and Naila were in line at the dollar general getting Autumn’s birthday surprises the lady in front of them turned around and said “looks like you’re getting a gift for someone....” and they said “yeah it’s Autumn’s birthday” and the lady said “put your stuff up on the counter I’m paying for you!!”

Without knowing anything about Autumn’s story or who she is, this kind stranger payed for all of the birthday surprises in their hands. Nila and Hannah told her they hope God blesses her greatly. It is moments like these that we also celebrate; as it reminds us there is still so much good in our world amongst the challenges we currently face!



Last weekend Autumn’s Godmother Windi made the journey to Galveston to visit and pamper her with a pedicure! The weekend was spent enjoying a break from the hospital, relaxing in a comfy hotel room and taking time to cherish the relationships of loving family.



Over the next few weeks Jackie and Autumn will be working towards formulating a plan for therapy once Autumn returns home. Please continue to pray for resilience as Autumn pushes through tough physical and occupational therapy sessions and continues to amaze us all on her recovery. We can not wait for her to get home and move to intensive outpatient rehab where she will be surrounded by the Love and support of her many family and friends cheering her on!



Happy Birthday Autumn!! Congratulations Uncle Dan and Aunt Melissa on your wedding this afternoon!! May today be a day to CELEBRATE all that is good in the world ❤️❤️❤️
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Surgery #12 Today
Journal entry by Stacy Krisch — Sep 5, 2018

Good Morning "Autumn Strong" Family! After a long weekend of Family and Friends, Autumn will undergo another surgical procedure today!!

This weekend was AMAZING! Autumn was surrounded by Family and Friends and spent her time relaxing in a comfortable hotel room on the beach, dancing into the night, watching beautiful sunsets and entertaining her visitors with the feisty spirit we have all grown to love over the years. She found time to laugh, embraced some of her struggles, went on an exhausting adventure to the T-Shirt shop and made a handful of memories to last a lifetime. Seeing Autumn (and spending time with her and Jackie), Briana, Nadia, Florence, Mari and Kelly came home with a new sense of calm and reassured all of us that indeed "Everything is gonna be alright". Grandma Rosa is still with Autumn and Jackie until tomorrow night and continues to provide support and never ending love for her girls.

Today the Doctors begin the process of releasing a contraction in Autumns neck which should allow some tension to be released throughout Autumn's face. The Surgery will be completed in 3 weekly steps beginning this afternoon at 1:00 pm. She will also be having some laser treatments done on her chest and arms in order to help prevent future contractions and help eliminate some current itching Autumn is experiencing. Shriner's Hospital is innovative and continually utilizes new procedures and techniques with Autumn.

Please keep Autumn in your prayers today as she undergoes Round 1 of 3 - Pray for Peace in Autumn as her Spirit is restless in anticipation of her upcoming procedure. Pray for the skilled hands of the surgical team as they perform this surgery. And Pray for Jackie as she patiently cares for Autumn over the next few days.

We love you Autumn - keep up your fighting spirit. Thank you to all of you for your continued prayers and support of the entire Hamilton Family.
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#AutumnStrong Sunday August 26, 2018
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — Aug 26, 2018

Hello again to the AutumnStrong family! I would say welcome back but after talking with Autumn and Jackie these past few weeks, the AutumnStrong supporters have not gone anywhere. In fact, much like Autumn, you appear to be getting stronger! Everyone has continued the outpouring of love in the form of donations, cards, gifts and prayers- All of which are felt and deeply appreciated. I do not want to deprive anyone from their update and powerful Autumn inspiration because there is plenty to share!



On Friday morning, Autumn had a doctor’s appointment where they decided to reduce and even eliminate some of Autumn’s medications. One of the pain medications is being removed while the doctor is also withdrawing some medicines that regulate her sleep and mood.



During a physical therapy session this week, her PT Emily asked Autumn to go to the Starbucks in the other hospital and order a double chocolate chip with white mocha frappuccino. Not only that, Autumn was instructed to pay for the order and try to sign her name. She was nervous because there are people who stare. As we have all become accustomed to, Autumn prevailed and executed her tasks magnificently!



The session with Emily is just one snippet which exemplifies the effort, bravery and tenacity which Autumn puts forth daily. She is succeeding because she does everything they tell her to do. She strives for the very best results.



This type of attitude was reinforced when Autumn met a nurse at the hospital who had 3rd degree burns on her face. The nurse looked great and explained to Autumn that she must continue to follow the doctor’s orders and always wear her compression mask.



Autumn is working hard to continue to improve her stamina and strength to walk. She has accepted the challenge of walking the stairs and hikes up and down a flight of stairs daily. 13 up, 13 down! Autumn got to exhibit some of her feistiness with her fists this past week. She put on some boxing gloves and threw some punches at her sparring partners (aka Emily and Angie) while sitting in her wheel chair. Needless to say, she LOVED it! Autumn even signed up for a personal trainer at the wellness center where she will work-out for 1-hour each day. Autumn loves her new personal trainer Angie. You would think after a day of squats and a sparring session that there would be some love lost but even exhausted and sore, Autumn pushed through.



Ok Autumn, now you are just making us look bad! But we could not be prouder of her for that very same reason!



But there are some things that Autumn is seemingly less motivated to approach. That is where mom steps in for that extra “encouragement”. Autumn is now attending some classes for school each day.



As for her treatments, the plan is to meet with the plastic surgeons and team of doctors to discuss with Autumn about the next steps in terms of surgery. Autumn also had an ultrasound done on her right foot because there was some swelling. The doctors are confident that there are no blood clots but it is something they will continue to monitor. On another positive note, Autumn received the great news that as long as she maintains her weight, her feeding tube could be removed as soon as next week.



Autumn has traded in most of her bandages for compression garments. Other than her arms and hands, which still have some areas that are healing, Autumn’s body is outfitted in compression garments. Like her mask, the compression garments help the healing and blending of the new skin while reducing the formation of scar tissue.



Speaking of her mask, Autumn is planning to be the very first recipient of a new, trial, pressure mask. The doctors and the team developing the new pressure mask have asked Autumn if they can use her experience and feedback of the mask as part of a presentation during a burn treatment seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada later this year. Although Autumn would not be asked to attend, she is understandably unsure about participating. Her PT Emily and her OT (Occupational Therapist), Karen, who helped create and develop the cloth and silicon mask would attend to share Autumn’s experience if she decides to engage in the study.



Jackie and Autumn had an anonymous donor ask if there was anything they needed. Autumn requested a cute new phone case because she is obsessed with them. They also asked for more bottles of emu oil. The oil works very nicely on her skin and other burn survivors have recommended it. The ladies are still receiving the white flat sheets and have enjoyed 2 different shipments of Portillo’s hot dogs. The food was delicious and was shared with some of the nurses and staff. Jackie and Autumn want to make sure that I include how thankful they both are for the mail, cards, care packages, drawings that they receive almost daily.



Other than that, Jackie and Autumn enjoyed the weekend by watching a movie. Jackie gives lots of massages and utilize the emu oil and other lotions to make sure Autumn is as comfortable as can be. They even treated themselves to a steak and baked potato dinner on Sunday which they had delivered to their room.

Autumn is especially excited for Labor Day weekend when she is going to be visited by some friends and cousins!



The thanks and appreciation cannot be expressed enough. The comfort and excitement that can be heard in the voices of Autumn and Jackie when they talk about the relentless outpouring of love is something that cannot be measured. Please keep the prayers and support coming for Autumn, Jackie, Brooke and David as they continue on their journey of healing.



Thank you and remember to stay #AutumnStrong!
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$144,272 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,885 people in 5 months
Created April 29, 2018
Fundraising team
on behalf of Dave Hamilton
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