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Outpouring of Support for Special Ed. Teacher Fighting Ultrarare Disease

Emily Progin, PR and Communications Coordinator

[email protected] / 800.642.8399

Release: Immediate

OUTPOURING OF SUPPORT FOR SPECIAL ED. TEACHER FIGHTING ULTRARARE DISEASE

June 20 Yard Sale is Second Event to Raise Funds for Wheelchair Van

BLUFFDALE, Utah—On Saturday, June 20 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Bluffdale community will come together for a massive yard sale event at Summit Academy Bluffdale (1940 W 14400 S). It will be the second outpouring of community support for beloved Summit Academy special education teacher Ravien Parsons, who was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome in March 2020.

In 2019, Ravien was an active and dedicated special education teacher at Summit Academy with a decade of special ed. experience as well as the proud wife of a Marine veteran and mother who loved to support her sons’ wrestling and CVHS football activities. In December, out of the blue, Ravien says “my body turned on itself.” It took three months for her to secure a diagnosis of Stiff Person Syndrome, or SPS, an ultrarare autoimmune disease with an unknown cause.

Ravien has been experiencing debilitating stiffness and rigidity since December. By March 2020, she was fully reliant on a power chair to remain mobile—but the devoted teacher refused to allow SPS and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to disrupt her classroom. She engaged in phone calls and Zoom meetings with students, reading aloud to them virtually and delivering digital lessons to keep them engaged and ensure that they did not feel alone.

With the help of her family, Ravien has been able to work out many of the mobility challenges she is suddenly facing—but one massive issue remains. No standard vehicle can support her 422-pound power chair, leaving Ravien out of options for returning to teaching in August unless she can purchase a wheelchair accessible van. Insurance is refusing to assist with the cost of the van, which can top $30,000 out-of-pocket.

In May, Ravien turned to the national nonprofit Help Hope Live to start a verified and tax-deductible medical fundraising campaign to help with the cost of the van. Her community responded with a moving outpouring of concern and support. Her first fundraiser, a community yard sale, raised $3,000.

Ravien was moved by her community’s response. “It’s hard for me not to be able to help myself,” she explained, “but the community has been incredible. At our last yard sale, 25 players on my son’s high school football team volunteered to set up the entire event since I couldn’t do it myself. We received so many donated items that we’ve filled an entire storage unit. People have been so generous with their donations.”

Ravien and her family will gather with her Summit Academy co-workers and students on Saturday for her second yard sale fundraiser. In light of COVID-19 concerns, the entire yard sale will be held outdoors with appropriate social distancing in place, and masks and gloves are highly recommended. Contact Ravien directly for more information or to inquire about donated good and volunteer opportunities at 985-320-0313 or [email protected].

Can’t attend? Make a donation in honor of Ravien to help this devoted teacher reach her fundraising goal and return to teaching in August at https://helphopelive.org/campaign/17402/. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, and all funds raised will be managed by the nonprofit to cover verified medical and related expenses via the Southwest Catastrophic Illness Regional Restricted Fund. Help Hope Live verifies medical and financial need for every patient.

Help Hope Live is a national nonprofit that specializes in engaging communities in secure, tax-deductible fundraising campaigns for people who need a transplant or are affected by a catastrophic injury or illness. Since 1983, campaigns organized by Help Hope Live have raised over $145 million to pay patient expenses. ###