Last Sunday evening I attended a fundraising event. The fundraiser, Dear Jazzy, was in support of a local family and was similar to those many of us have known about or attended in our communities. While I was there and visiting with some people I hadn’t seen in a long time, I mentioned that I’d started writing a blog. The husband said, “Maybe you can write about tonight.” I’d been trying to come up with a Thanksgiving-appropriate blog topic, and I thought this was a great idea. So here’s the Dear Jazzy story.
Jazzlin, or Jazzy, is eight years old. Although I’ve met her, I don’t really know her. I work with her aunt, though, and through her, I feel connected to Jazzy.
Three years ago, while Jazzy and her dad were driving on one of our local, somewhat rural, highways, their car was hit head on by a drunk and high driver. Jazzy’s dad’s legs were shattered. Jazzy suffered a life-threatening spinal cord injury. It was a terrible and scary time. But Jazzy is strong and her entire family was by her side during her long hospital stay and challenging road to recovery. Recovery meant that Jazzy was alive and breathing on her own, but she was paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.
Fast forward three years. Jazzy is a happy third grader, is artistic, has many friends and a little sister, and in many ways is a typical eight-year old girl. She refers to the anniversary of the accident as her “Life Day” – the day she didn’t die. And though she lives her life from a wheelchair, she doesn’t let that stop what she wants to do or be.
Last August one of the moms at Jazzy’s school wrote a letter to our community that launched a movement to claim Jazzy as “our” kid (read it here: It Was Your Kid). She proposed that our community come together in a celebration of hope to benefit Jazzy. The goal was to fundraise resources for important therapy sessions not covered by insurance and maybe even enough to fund the down payment for a single story home that would accommodate Jazzy’s wheelchair mobility. Here’s a short news video (1:51). (The driver who was responsible for this tragic event was not insured and so Jazzlin and her dad received only a very small settlement of $7,000 each.)
That evening was magical and inspiring, and it made me feel proud to be part of a community that would stand up for one of it’s children in this way. Jazzy and her family were there, along with several hundred other people who were connected directly or indirectly with Jazzy and her family. Everything, and I mean everything, was donated: the theater venue, the food and beverages, the entertainment (three bands), the auction items, the servers, bartenders, auction workers. There were speakers who helped us all know Jazzy a little better and reminded us of the reason that we were all together on this night.
There was an incredible amount of energy all focused on one goal: Raise money to help Jazzy get what she needs and what she deserves. And being in that theater with a bunch of people who were there with a common desire to think about someone else made me feel uplifted in the way those things do. It was positive and it felt like all of us together were making a difference.
Here’s my Dear Jazzy.
Thank you for showing all of us grownups how it is possible to be courageous and graceful in the face of enormous challenges. And for being the kind of person who, at such a young age, inspired a community to partner with people they knew and didn’t know to try to put a little right into a terrible wrong. It felt good to focus on something positive in the midst of all the negativity we’ve been living with in our country and community this month. Thank you for helping us remember that when we come together we are stronger and we can make a difference.
Your Tia’s friend, Karen
I’m thinking we can use this story as a reminder this Thanksgiving day to appreciate all that we have, in spite of the challenges that life may present. It’s not my intention to trivialize the real problems people are dealing with in their lives. I know that you may be facing health, emotional, or life challenges. But I invite you especially today to enjoy the time with loved ones, take a solo morning walk to get ready for the hustle and bustle of the day, give a few more hugs this day. It would be great if, as we get ready for a busy holiday season, we can put aside our differences, take a break from stresses, and enjoy the good relationships we have with each other.
The GoFundMe campaign for Jazzy is still active with a goal of $100,000. If you’d like to be part of the community who is working to make a difference in Jazzy’s life, you can check it out through the link below. Feel free to share with friends.