Every year I do this it seems to get harder and harder. I had about 10 families get nominated. Inspiring stories each and every one of them. I ended up narrowing it down to 4 and then having a few friends help me pick 2. Thank you so much to all the wonderful people out there that shared these stories.
Thank you Leah for nominating Pat! Here is what Leah wrote:
Pat is the music teacher for Olentangy Local Schools Special Needs Preschool, where I teach preschool. Pat
works incredibly hard at her job teaching our children the love of music as well as functional and academic skills. Our children have a range oneeds from mild to profound developmental delays and she works so hard to not only include each child, but to teach and support needed skills for these children. Pat is grossly underpaid for the hard work she puts into her job. She gets paid much less then any of the teachers who are also underpaid. To make ends meet she works a second job on the weekends teaching music to toddlers with special needs in early intervention services. She has also created a CD and sing-along book for our students to help promote home carryover of the skills we work on in the classroom.
Pat pays for many of her supplies and materials out of pocket with love including instruments and art supplies, so that all our students can participate successfully and share her love of music and fun. Pat
is loved by all the preschool students on our district (which include over 900 students) and somehow she is able to call on each one of them by name. Pat is one of the most generous people I know. She would do anything to help out the teachers and students she works with even if it creates more of a workload for her.
Pat is a mother to 2 teenage girls and is recently remarried to a great man who also works very hard as a laborer making very little money.Pat was a single mom for a long time until recently struggling to make ends
meet for her family. She has shown her daughters the meaning of hard work and enjoying your job even though the pay does not compensate well. She believes in creating a strong loving family that shares the love of music with one another.They have such a loving family who support each other's interests and
I believe in the power of photography to capture life's moments and create warm and happy memories. Pat deserves to be able to have beautiful family photos despite her financial hardships. When I read the
description of you being able to show someone's spirit, love and beauty, I think of Pat Stevens. She truly deserves so much. She is generous, kind and loving. Not only do I think that she deserves the gift of remembrance through photography, but I also feel that you would find joy in photographing her and
her family's joyful, music-loving spirit.
Thank you Beth for sharing Mark and Michelle's story! Here is what she wrote: First, thank you for this opportunity to nominate such a wonderful family. I am nominating my husband's cousin Mark and his wife Michelle who live in Westerville, OH. Their difficulties began a few years ago when Mark's brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. After battling for several years, Scott passed away in June of 2010. Because Mark and Michelle were expecting a baby, they hoped that this baby would be the healing balm that they all
needed so badly after such a tremendous loss. However, Michelle gave birth to baby Timothy Scott 7 weeks early (September 29, 2010). At first, it appeared that he was just a preemie and would need to be in NICU
for a few weeks and would be home by Thanksgiving. However, after just a few days in the St.Ann's NICU, Timmy was transferred to Children's NICU where physicians began run a litany of tests. Among other defects, they discovered that he has a level 3 Laryngeal Cleft...meaning the dividing wall between
the trachea and the esophagus didn't form completely. Everything he swallowed, including saliva, was going into his lungs and causing pneumonia and collapsed lungs.
This condition is extremely rare. So tiny and fragile, Timothy has gone through numerous operations and tests with multiple complications. He underwent one major surgery to repair the cleft in Columbus, but it was
unsuccessful bc he developed pneumonia again and had to be intubated and the new intubation tore the repair. Two weeks ago he was transferred to the Cincinnati children's hospital and underwent a second repair on Tuesday,which appears to have been successful. Mark is only able to see Timmy on the weekends, as he must work b/c he holds the insurance. They were expecting Mark to be able to get a better job, but Michelle was offered a great job in Washington D.C...to start in March. She was to be defending her
doctorate, but has since had to put everything on hold. (Side note- They spent 2 six month stents in Tanzania as Michelle researched an undocumented East African language. This will facilitate a better understanding of this language to aid in the translation of those documents that are valued by that people group such as the Bible and folk tales) That means that there is a chance that this job might not work out but they are still holding out hope that she will be able to accept it.
The proverbial rock-and-hard-place. The doctors are hopeful that Timothy will be able to come home once he is healed from this latest surgery. However, he has many more surgeries to come due to the other "issues". This is such a loving, giving couple. They gave up so much of their time to help with his brother, sister-in-law and nieces and have done all they can to help his parents deal with the grief of losing their son. Right now they are barely surviving and I think having a professional document their little one's life and have pictures of their sweet family would mean so much to them. Their hearts have been broken over and over and over again, some healing would be so nice. I have attached a couple snapshots of Baby Timmy so you can catch a glimpse of his cute face!