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This is my Aunt Elise. She is only 6 years older than me, so we grew up more like sisters. Like little sisters tend to do, I followed her around everywhere she went and was a complete copycat. I wanted the same clothes, watched the same TV shows, took swimming lessons because she did and showed her off to my friends. Like big sisters tend to do, she took care of me. Once when a boy broke my heart she dropped everything, picked me up in her car and drove me around with my favorite song blaring from her car repeatedly until my tears turned to laughter.

My aunt is a quadriplegic due to a drunk driver. Money has always been tight for her as she raised two kids all on her own. Before the accident, she worked as a school bus assistant for kids with special needs. It didn’t pay much, but she comes from a long line of helpers. Our family is made up of preachers, teachers and caregivers. Aunt Elise is now at home and primarily being taken care of by my 65-year-old mother and 70-year-old aunt. We can’t afford a health care worker, physical therapy or even a van to transport her for possible treatments. My grandfather (Elise’s father) stole the heart of everyone he met. He was a pastor for more than 60 years and spent most of his last years preaching to inmates because he believed in the overall goodness of people. The day he died a letter from one of those inmates appeared in the mail and every word was that of thankfulness and joy. Like her father, in the face of all that is happening to my aunt, she tries to be brave and her sense of humor has kept our spirits up. Thank you in advance for anything your heart leads you to give and for the thankfulness and joy that it will bring to my aunt.