Monday, September 28, 2009

About 2 weeks ago Kelley had her first follow up visit with the doctor who performed the surgery on her broken leg, and the news is good!. He says it is about half way healed, and he is very pleased with how it looks. She still has about 2 months to go, but the end is in sight. She is going to be able to ease into some exercising now, albeit very gradual and easy at first, just working on some easy upper body mostly and moving what she can in her lower body while sitting in the chair. She also had a great visit with some very old friends at her high school reunion last weekend, and about 20 of them came the next day to see the "3 women video". It was her first outing (except for doctors visits) since she broke her legs, and she really enjoyed it. She is planning on starting to go to the local gym with her mom this week, so moving forward....yet again.
I took advantage of an unplanned car break down in Sacto yesterday to help her out with catching up on her medical bills through the NTAF account. Good news on that front, thanks to the raft trip and other donations. Got all caught up on her bills, with a comfortable buffer for a little while at least. The Coloma fundraiser will really help ensure she can cover her expenses for the next year of rehab that hopefully can really kick in by around mid november. She also was able to finally complete the process to get her medical coverage through Medicare (primary insurance) and the state MediCal (secondary insurance) program and drop her Blue Cross account. This will probably reduce her regular monthly medical expenses by almost $1,000 a month (between monthly premiums and drug and doctor co-pays)... and her insurance was good....!. Sure gives you some perspective on this whole health insurance debate. She had to become financially destitute to qualify for Medicare and MediCal, and with the cost of paying for regular insurance with a condition like Kelley's you are about guaranteed to become destitute sooner then later.
But Medicare and MediCal still will not pay for much of the alternative and aggressive therapy, and supplements Kelley really needs for optimum recovery and health. So the NTAF account has been, and still is, critical for her since it can pay for that support without affecting her MediCare-Cal status (since the NTAF account is non-profit and only pays for strictly defined medically related expenses not covered by insurance).
Thanks to everyone that has provided this well timed and much needed support! Kelley, Kurt, Sean, Leona (Kelley's quiet but capable super-mom), and I hope to see many of you in Coloma in a few weeks. Sue

Friday, September 11, 2009

Well its been more than a month so this blog is a long one. The Tuolumne River Fundraiser was a resounding success. Many thanks to Bob and Jane Ferguson, the owners of Zephyr Whitewater Rafting who hosted this trip, and as a result will be donating approximately $6K to Kelleys NTAF account. We had 15 clients, largely consisting of an extended women’s posse of Kelleys friends, (and their friends) , and “The Family”. The family consisted of one of Kelley’s old friends Jim Elliot, his wife Laurie, and their two sons. The group energy was just great, including both the volunteer guides ( Joe Dengler, Didi Cioffi, and Janice Stanley) and the paid Zephyr guides (Bridget, Neva, and Rueben). The highlights of the trip for me was 1) paddling in the front of Joe’s boat, who since he hadn’t seen the river in ten years, ran it as a read and run exploratory, with precise and exacting moves from slot to slot. As he repeated at the top of each rapid, “Ok, now for this one… we are going to stay on top of the water…and go between the rocks.” Great fun, and created a totally unique “T” experience for me. 2) the joy of sleeping under the stars on a California river canyon in late august, in what feels like the very heart of mother earth and 3) watching Ben and Jesse Elliot just do what they do, particularly hucking the cliffs at the North Fork pools. Jim and Laurie have raised some adventurous, and socially engaging young men that were simply a delight to have on the trip.

Of course my mind was filled throughout the trip of the many memorable experiences Kelly and I have shared with other friends on this river. My first trip down the Tuolumne was during what I think of as the “Summer of Love” of California river rafting, in 1983. This was the first year I came out to California to work on the river, and as many of you may recall that high water year, California river running was just outrageous, I was completely enamored by the whitewater and whitewater community, and after that summer knew I was moving to California! The peak experience of that season was a 40 person private trip of south fork river guides on the “T”, still running at over 5,000 cfs in early August. There are so many stories from that trip. Lets just suffice to say that it was just one of the first of many times when Kelley and Julie helped push me outside of my comfort zone, as I was drawn into their constant quest for adventure.

Watching the new generation of young river guides on this trip definitely reminded me of those magical years, and of course the tragedy of how much life has changed for Kelley. Joe and I stopped and visited Kelley on our way home, to deliver the tip money the guides wanted to donate and tell her about the trip. Of course we reminisced a little about the “summer of 83”. Kelley is hanging in there, but this is obviously a tough time. Not only is she on a complete hold on rehab, but the braces her legs are in seem to be stimulating a lot of nerve pain. Day by day, thats all she and her loved ones can do.

Upcoming Fundraisers: Some other news to report regarding fundraising. Sue Campbell hosted a small fundraiser in Anchorage, Ak, showing the 3 women DVD last month, and estimates they raised about $1.5K for Kelley's medical fund.

September 27th at 1:00 pm, at the El Dorado High School, Kitty "Couch" Tulga, a friend of Kelley's from High School, will be organizing the fundraiser - showing the DVD
"3 Women 300 Miles"
- $10 donation at the door.

An invited Artist Musical Jam Fest, for October 23rd, 6:00pm, at the Sierra Nevada House in Coloma - $25 donation at the door. Tiffany Gomes and a group of folks from Coloma are organizing this Jam Fest Fundraiser and the line up sounds GREAT, no one famous, but talented and entertaining for sure. I have the feeling this will be an event not to be missed.

And lastly please check out the new link at the left of this blog. It features a short 3 minute video our friend Trish produced, to help tell Kelleys story. Hope to see many of you at the October event, to be with Kelley on the 2nd anniversary of when this journey all began for Kelley. It helps to know she is still not alone on this path. Sue