During an assembly promoting the upcoming release of my book MoonFlower at an elementary school in September of 2018 I met and eight-year-old girl who would forever change my life. Her name is Teresa Alaniz and she is many things, but most of all she is the most gorgeous person inside and out that I have ever met. Although she was born with certain unique limitations, she doesn't let any of them slow her down or stop her from bringing joy to every person she meets. Trust me, I've seen it. So, when we met, I too fell victim to her spell of unwavering resilience.
This little angel was born with a multitude of health issues. These issues include the following; a lack of proper facial development, internal structural issues involving the location where her brain sits in her skull, the inability to breath properly through her nose and mouth due to internal developmental problems, the inability to talk because of missing facial muscles and trouble with spatial recognition caused by the unusual location of her brain. As a result Teresa has had to undergo roughly twenty surgeries since she was born.
Teresa has been in the hospital since November where she spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's this past year. Just last week she went through her 7th surgery in 3 months and has even more surgeries ahead with no hospital release date yet scheduled. Teresa has a younger sister and an older brother that visit her when they can but due to the distance from their home to the hospital she hardly gets to see them.
Because of how rare her condition is Teresa doesn't get many visitors, although this past week her mother reached out and invited me to come and spend some time with them both. What happened next is something that I will never forget.
As I made my way up to Teresas 6th floor children's suite I was surprised to see that nobody was in her room. Patiently I waited for several minutes speaking with nurses and doctors asking them where Teresa and her mother were. Then, just as I was about to pull out my cell phone to give them a call, I saw Teresa fly around the corner of the long corridor I was now standing in. In one hand she had a speaker blasting the Black Eyed Peas and in the other she held her mothers hand as they both danced and twirled towards me. It was as if rather than being in a children's hospital they were in the middle of the Strawberry Fields in Central Park on a spring afternoon. The nurses and doctors in the hallway both just shook their heads and laughed as I could hardly believe the scene before me. Was this really happening? Then, one of her nurses who I had been speaking with said to me before the dancers arrived, "This is their afternoon dance party, they go around the entire floor and do this every couple of hours. Have been for months." Teresa then let go of her mothers hand and ran towards me to deliver a massive hug. Then we went into her room and I was able to present her with a gift bag which included a copy of my book resulting in a sneak peak at her amazing smile. A couple of hours later and right before I left, I was presented with the invitation to join them for their "early evening dance party" around the 6th floor which I happily accepted. The three of us danced around the hospital for the next 20 minutes with Teresa playing her favorite tunes out of her speaker and I couldn't believe how much fun we were having. I didn't want to leave. As I said goodbye I could hardly keep my emotions from getting the best of me because when I told her that I would be back she of course couldn't say anything in response. But she didn't have to say anything for me to understand. In that moment we were absolutely speaking the same language. Now, I am asking for your help. Teresa and her family have been left with staggering medical, grocery, gas and credit card bills due to the fact that neither of her parents have been able to work for the past 3 months. They need our help in order to not only support Teresa, but also their other two children. No matter how large or how small the donation I promise that it will be going to an amazing family that deserves to see some good fortune come there way. Let's do everything that we can to keep Teresa dancing.
Thank you for your generosity and I promise to keep everyone updated with Teresa's progress.