Burn survivor Autumn Hamilton

$140,432 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,853 people in 3 months
Created April 29, 2018
Autumn Hamilton, 16 years old, of Lombard, IL, was an unfortunate burn victim in the Glendale Heights bonfire accident on April 28, 2018.


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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Autumn has some downtime despite the rigorous scheduling of therapy and testing. She fills those portions of the day by watching movies or Netflix and of course playing plenty of music! But her favorite thing to do is talking to friends and family.

There were a few less people that she had to call this week because Autumn had some very special visitors. Her dad, David, and her sister, Brooke, flew down to Galveston to talk to Autumn in person. Autumn is also spending this week with her cousins Trina and Dave and their sons Nick and Dylan.

On Friday, Autumn had an action-packed day trying to balance out the work she is committed to doing and having fun with her family that came to visit. In the morning, she met with her doctors and then jumped right into her Occupational Therapy session. Later that afternoon, rather than separate work and family, she asked her Dad to work alongside her during physical therapy as she walked up and down the stairs. Following a few more hours of rigorous work, Autumn was finally free to have some real fun with her family.

The first thing she decided to do was to meet up with her cousins to enjoy a chocolate malt. After some deliberating and encouragement from her family, Autumn agreed to make her first voluntary trip outside in nearly 15 weeks. Her dad, sister and cousins took turns pushing Autumn in her wheelchair and holding her lemonade as they enjoyed the hot, Texas weather. Needless to say, Autumn loved every bit of her walk with her family and they are urging her to take more outdoor trips with them while they are in Galveston. Although she did not want the night to end, Autumn reluctantly said goodnight to everyone. After a day like that, she fell asleep in a matter of minutes. Hopefully she is dreaming of the next adventure with her visiting family members.

The only thing we forgot to get an update on was the count for the white bed sheets. As of last week, the count was up to 60! The response to the request was met with such an immense level of generosity that continues to warm the hearts of Autumn and her entire family. Your willingness to support Autumn at every possible turn is inspiring and deeply appreciated.

The outpouring of gifts and the sheets sent to Autumn or on her behalf have been so astounding that the staff member in the shipping and receiving department remarked that they have never seen more items shipped to a patient before.

Please keep all of those wonderful prayers and waves of love going out to Autumn and the Hamilton family.

Thank you and remember to stay #AutumnStrong!
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AutumnStrong August 11, 2018
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — Aug 11, 2018

Hello again to all of the AutumnStrong supporters! We apologize for the delay between updates but we promise to catch-up everyone on her progress and even some HUGE milestones that have taken place since the last. There is plenty of news that Autumn and the family want to share with all of you loving followers out there!

Monday July 30th was the 11th and most recent surgery for Autumn.

After another very successful surgery by the surgeons at Shriners in Galveston, Autumn retired to her room in the ICU to recover and rest with her mom, Jackie, right there by her side as always. The surgical team also decided to suspend any therapy for 3 days while she got her strength back following the surgery.

Part of the surgery utilized a very interesting and effective treatment involving a CO2 laser. After hearing some details from Jackie and doing a little bit of research on the information superhighway, here is my best attempt to explain how the CO2 Laser treatment works.

When our body recognizes a wound to the skin, it works as quickly as possible to close the open injury in order to prevent infection. In order to close the skin, the body begins to rapidly produces the protein, collagen. Collagen is the abundant (more so in young people like Autumn) and powerful, bonding agent that is critical for the structural make-up of our skin. Scarring is partially the result of the quick but unorganized formation of the collagen in the skin that were once injured. The body is very effective in closing most wounds through this natural response. However, the scarred skin area, especially those from burns, is often painful, itchy and left feeling tight for those effected. Additionally, the body’s accelerated effort to protect itself does not allow the new skin to harmonize appropriately in color and/or contour with unharmed skin surrounding it.

The “microbeams” of the CO2 laser aim to alleviate some, if not all, of those uncomfortable results of the expedited healing process. The laser agitates the scarred tissue and allows for a natural healing process so the body can appropriately regenerate cells and organize the collagen fibers of the skin.

The surgeons explained to Jackie that although it sounds like a lot to endure, the procedure is not painful when administered or during recovery.

As for next steps, the doctors are continuing to evaluate and monitor Autumn’s progress daily. Her left palm is healing nicely without having to apply any skin grafts. The right palm is not as far along in the healing but the nurses and doctors are keeping an eye on it as well.

After three days away, Autumn was eager to go back up to the 4th floor, even if it was to get back to work at therapy.

One of the biggest hurdles that has been in Autumn’s path to recovery has been the swallow test. Just a few days after her surgery, Autumn was able to pass the swallow test! That day she indulged in a variety of foods including Cheez-Its, Goldfish crackers, protein bars, chicken strips and fries. One of the therapists that she has grown closest with, Emily, brought Autumn one of her favorite things- corn on the cob. Yes, she loves corn on the cob but is still asking for a Portillo’s hot dog when she gets home!

Speaking of therapy, Autumn decided to create some of her own exercises even if she did not realize it. She was left along for a few minutes and decided to grab Jackie’s cell phone. Autumn was busy on the phone for the next several minutes and gave her fingers a little workout! She has also has begun to practice her writing. When Jackie and her Aunt Kelle saw her efforts, they encouraged Autumn to go and check out the school room they have set-up. Autumn was not hearing that at all!

Whether it is working while lying in her bed on the 2nd floor or alongside her therapists on the 4th floor, Autumn truly strives to succeed everyday with each and every exercise. She is currently working towards taking more and more physical steps. In true Autumn Hamilton fashion, she is walking and moving forward despite some pain she feels in her right foot. The pain has been attributed to some nerve damage sustained to her right thigh during the accident. The surgical team is hopeful that the nerves will repair themselves over time.

Autumn is excelling in many areas of her therapy, especially with her occupational therapy.

Within a few days of taking just a few steps, Autumn is now able to walk the entire hallway. That day she was rewarded with a trip to the 7th floor to watch some fireworks.

On Wednesday, Autumn even worked with weights on her legs! She is now walking up and down a few stairs as part of her exercises. Throw in some hip stretches and a new elbow splint and Autumn will be choreographing her own dances again in no time!

One of the biggest milestones of this recovery process occurred on Monday August 6th. Autumn was officially released from the ICU and moved to the 4th floor as an outpatient! Autumn said she was excited and nervous all at the same time.
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#AutumnStrong Sunday July 22, 2018- Surgery #10 Upcoming
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — 3 hours ago

Hello once again to the AutumnStrong family!

Wow! What a phenomenal turnout for the Love of Lee sponsored, “Autumn Summerfest” held at St. Leonard yesterday. The Hamilton’s want to extend their most sincere gratitude to the Love of Lee organization, all of the sponsors, those who donated supplies, the volunteers and everyone that was able to come out and show their AutumnStrong support.

Pictures from the event have been passed along to Jackie and Autumn so they can see and feel the outpouring of love.

The past few nights, Autumn has been having bad dreams. The dreams almost always involve fire and Autumn wakes up scared and often crying before she is comforted by her mom.

But it was a different story this morning. Autumn woke up and told her mom that she finally had a good dream. Jackie eagerly asked, “What was it about?”

Autumn said that it was a dream where “her and Michael Oberli were driving around listening to music! It was great.”

Jackie told Autumn that soon enough, her dream will be a reality.

Michael Oberli is one of Autumn’s oldest and closest friends. She wants to make sure Michael knows that she is thinking of him.

And another great piece of news just came in as we were writing this update. Autumn sat up in bed all on her own. She is sitting on the edge of her bed playing with bean bags. #AutumnStrong!

Finally, we want to let everyone know that Autumn is scheduled for surgery #10 tomorrow. The operation will be on three different areas to apply new skin grafts.

I am sure many of you have questions after reading these updates and would like to have further detail. We know that your inquiries come from a place of love and want each of you to know that we do our very best to provide as much information as possible.

We appreciate everyone who continues to stand behind Autumn and her family throughout this journey. The patience and respect shown to the family along with the love and prayers is beyond admirable. Thank you all!

Please continue sending your love and prayers and remember to…

Stay #AutumnStrong!
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#AutumnStrong July 15, 2018: First Galveston Update
Journal entry by Dahlia OConnor — July 16

Good evening #AutumnStrong friends and followers!

Tonight is our first update since Autumn made her move to Shriner's Hospitals for Children- Galveston.

Jackie and Autumn are making their adjustments while acclimating themselves to the new hospital. The ladies are both meeting a lot of wonderful nurses, therapists and surgeons. On her first day, a drove of staff members met with Autumn to run a series of initial tests to gain an assessment of her condition.

While the staff will be guiding and pushing Autumn through her recovery, Autumn will be the driving voice behind the steps taken for her advancement and the priority in which particular areas are treated. The staff wants to empower Autumn and Jackie from the very beginning of her therapy and surgical regimen. Jackie is being tasked with learning some of the day-to-day techniques to help and care for Autumn.

Although she has been in Galveston for a short time, Autumn is already accelerating past her last milestones reached in Chicago. With her mom by her side, Autumn is flexing her world-famous level of strength to the Shriners support team by taking her first steps!

When Autumn is awake she is enjoying pink lemonade and was even able to eat some yogurt today!

Tomorrow (Monday 7.16.18), Autumn will be getting an EKG test done. The Echocardiogram will be administered by placing multiple electrodes on her skin to measure the electrical activity of Autumn's heart. The results of the test will be interpreted by her doctors to try and understand two separate vasovagal syncope episodes Autumn experienced recently. A vasovagal syncope episode is basically her body overreacting some kind of stimulation or distress. The body's response is a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate which results in a brief fainting spell by Autumn.

While there was no immediate concern, the doctors want to be sure to properly analyze the EKG results and treat Autumn further if needed.

Following the tests Monday, Autumn will undergo a surgery on her mouth and one of her eyes on Tuesday.

Today, Grandma Rosa made an early morning flight down to Texas to be able to encourage Autumn during her upcoming tests and surgeries.

Of course the visit from Grandma is a wonderful boost to the support Autumn will need this week, we hope that we can once again ask for the additional support of the AutumnStrong family. We know that your selfless efforts, prayers and love will reach Autumn and the Hamiltons no matter where they are.

Please say your prayers and send your love to Autumn and the Hamilton family!

Stay #AutumnStrong!
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$140,432 of $250,000 goal

Raised by 1,853 people in 3 months
Created April 29, 2018
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