Burn survivor Autumn Hamilton

$149,597 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,914 people in 8 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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Update 38
Posted by Matthew Sherman
5 days ago
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Times Flies when You're with Your Loved Ones
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — Jan 9, 2019

14 weeks have flown by and each moment we got to spend with Autumn has been a special one.

Autumn and Jackie got right back into the swing of things in good old Lombard, with much love and support from friends and family. Autumn spends 6 hours, 3 days a week in occupational, speech, physical, and scar tissue massage therapy.
Autumns other 2 days are spent with completing a 1/2 day at therapy and a few hours doing school work along with tutiors. Autumn has completed English, math and social studies for her 1st semester as a Jr. Autumn is working hard and can't wait to get back to the class of 2020 at Glenbard East High School (once a ram always a ram!).


She continues to work on balances and stanama in PT and can now stand on her tip toes.
We would like to give a special shout out to Autumn's massage therapist, Annie. She has done an amazing job of softening the tissue and helping with some range of motion in Autumn's elbows. Plus, she is always doing extra research to find new ways to make Autumn's recovery better.

From day one Autumn has ventured out with friends and cousins. She enjoys spending as much free time as she can get, hanging with her friends. Autumn got back into the drivers seat with no problems and loves having the independence.

We additionally want to Thank, Tony and Jamie, for the Fun Zanies Comedy fundraiser. Laughter is the best medicine, and they came over before Christmas to drop off gifts for the family. Jackie said "it felt like the real Santa came, because all the gifts were a wonderful surprise".
It has been a true blessing to meet all the people that have reached out to my sweet niece and family.
Another fundraiser is scheduled for February, so stay tuned for more information!


On Sunday the 13th, Jackie and Autumn will make their way back to Shriners in Galveston. On Monday, she will meet with her doctors at Shriners and Tuesday she will have surgery #16 for the tissue expansion on the back of her head. This will be a 10 1/2 week procedure and we are not sure when they will be back in Lombard but will keep everyone posted.
Sweet Grandma Rosa will head out on Tuesday the 15th to support and love Autumn and Jackie.
Please pray for safe travels and for all to go well during surgery.


"Strength in the face of pain or fear" is the definition of courage. Everyday, Autumn walks her life showing everyone what it really means to have strength. #autumnstrong

Love and Blessing, Aunt Kelle
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Update 37
Posted by Matthew Sherman
2 months ago
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AutumnStrong 11.12.18... Drum roll please...
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — Nov 12, 2018

After 75 days at Loyola Hospital and about 3 months at Shriners Hospital in Galveston, Texas- Autumn has made her triumphant return home! Jackie and Autumn arrived home in Lombard in early October making their family whole once again.

The first few days were dedicated to the transition of her new routine back at home. The shift back to life at home in Lombard has been amazing which should not come as a shock to anyone. Autumn wasted no time ordering and enjoying some of her hometown favorite foods like pizza and Portillo’s hot dogs as family and friends gathered to welcome her back home.

The first weekend could not have been scripted to go any better. Autumn had an opportunity to make a magical evening even more special for one of her cousins. She surprised everyone by joining her family at her cousin’s wedding. The beautiful young lady was adorned in an elegant dress and could be found on the dance floor most of the night.

As they say, if you play hard, you also need work hard. The Monday after getting home, Autumn got right back into therapy at RIC. The schedule challenges Autumn physically and emotionally. The 6-hour, daily regiment involves physical, occupational and speech therapy. And of course she is exceeding all goals.

When she is at home, Autumn utilizes a CPM machine on her hands. The Continuous Passive Motion machine is intended to recreate the natural physiological motions of the fingers, thumb and wrist through a series of different exercises.

Autumn was pretty adamant about making a trip back to Loyola. While she did not remember much about her time spent there, she was eager to see the 7th floor and meet the staff that helped her begin her trip down the road to this amazing recovery. She confidently walked through the doors of Loyola and made her way to the 7th floor ICU Burn Unit.

When Dr. Baldea was reunited with Autumn, he was amazed. In regards to her recovery and healing, Dr. Baldea said that on a scale of 1 to 10, Autumn was at a 10.

In addition to the intense therapy schedule, Autumn has started taking classes with a tutor. Currently her courses of Math, English and Social Studies even carry over into the weekend due to her busy schedule.

This month, she also added her scar tissue massage therapy.

What might seem like a hectic schedule to some, is actually just a reflection of Autumn’s dedication to her recovery. She continues to set goals that she is eager to reach. She is a force and we are going to see new levels of what it means to be Autumn Strong!

Autumn and her family will make their way back to Shriners Hospital in Galveston in January for a procedure on her head known as tissue expansion.

Tissue expansion is ideal for scalp repair because the stretched skin on the scalp retains normal hair growth. Most other body tissue does not grow hair to the same degree. The surgeon will place a small balloon-like device underneath the affected area. Over time, the balloon will be filled with silicon to encourage the skin to keep growing and stretching until it covers the intended area on the head.

The Hamilton family specifically asked me to extend their deep appreciation to everyone for the countless meals that were sent and shared with them- pork tenderloin, ribs, chicken pot pies, pizzas, brats and more!

They also want to sincerely thank all of their friends that have stood by them providing immeasurable love and support.

Finally, we wanted to make note and recognize all of the devoted, magnificent friends that Autumn feels so blessed to have in her life. Too often young people are generalized and their character denigrated. We want to pay tribute to these loyal friends for the love and support they continue to shine onto Autumn.

As you can see from the information above, Autumn’s journey back is not over. We want to respectfully ask that everyone continue sending love and prayers to Autumn and her family. Thank you to everyone and remember to stay #AutumnStrong!

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Update 36
Posted by Matthew Sherman
3 months ago
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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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Update 35
Posted by Matthew Sherman
4 months ago
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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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$149,597 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,914 people in 8 months
Created April 29, 2018
Fundraising team
on behalf of Dave Hamilton
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