As the sisters got together and brainstormed what we could do this holiday season, we threw around a lot of ideas – 12 days of fudge recipe, our favorite Christmas cookies, even 12 days of giveaways . . . but nothing felt right. Then we had a new idea- what if we found 12 families who could use a little bit of extra help and love this holiday season?
Last year we were blown away by the thoughtfulness of our readers as we helped one family who was going through a hard time, so this year we decided that we would go a little further and help 12 families! To us, we feel the most joy when we focus on what the holidays are really all about and we believe that the true meaning of Christmas is to love and serve others. With that being said, we are so excited to bring to you our 12 Days of Giving Back!For the next 12 days, we will be introducing you to 12 different families who were nominated by our readers as people who could use a little extra help this during this time. We received HUNDREDS of nominations and each story touched our hearts. The 12 that we chose really had an impact on us and we knew that we needed to help them.
With each post, we will tell one family’s story and share ways that you can help this family in need. Even if you don’t have money to donate but would still like to help, we will be donating $1 for every recipe that is uploaded to our new recipe sharing site, My Recipe Magic (up to $100 per day). If you would like to share your recipes and help donate to the family, CLICK HERE for the instructions to get you started (it’s easy!).
Day 12: Sammie King
This is the story of a brave girl my age – a senior in High School. When I read this and learned that she is my age and missing out on so much of the fun of her senior year, my heart went out to her. So I thought she could use a little pick up this time of year. Here is her story, from a family friend:
In today’s fast-paced, techno-crazy society it is rare to find a family who despite great adversity, still puts God first and finds time to help their community…Yet there are some that still exist. Nine years ago their middle child Sammie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 8 years old. This Godly family didn’t skip a beat. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves they began helping the other Type 1 families in their small community and volunteering for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).
The King family has raised over $5,000 for JDRF and helped organize a Walk to Cure Diabetes in their community, as well as Zumba for a cure and other fundraisers where all proceeds were donated directly to JDRF to help fund a much needed cure. After the diagnosis, they tried to normalize Sammie’s everyday life. Battling blood sugar levels was proving difficult, blood sugar levels would raise then drop dangerously low. Many times Caroline would say” Let’s just pray” Caroline, would set an alarm clock every two hours at night to keep a close eye on blood glucose levels. Once on an insulin pump Randy and Caroline were able to help maintain a steady blood sugar level for Sammie. However, their family would soon be faced with an even bigger challenge.
Three years ago, Sammie began losing feeling in her feet. Despite controlling her diabetes she was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. Small nerve fiber damage due to Sammie’s diabetes was to blame. Her doctors were shocked! This condition normally affects only those who have had diabetes for many years. The complications didn’t stop there. Sammie was next diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy. Her body cannot control her heart beat or blood pressure. Two months later she was diagnosed with a form of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s disease. Sammie was sleeping more than she was awake. Hashimoto’s causes pain and swelling in joints and this twelve year old was finding it difficult to do many of the things she loved to do. She had pain and stiffness in joints. Once again, instead of drowning in the sorrow of their situation, they began volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald House whenever they had a chance and Sammie felt well enough.
Within months, a new diagnosis would again change this amazing family. Sammie was diagnosed with gastroapresis, her stomach was paralyzed. Her stomach does not empty normally. She was losing weight rapidly and now must rely on a feeding tube for nutrition. Sammie deals each and every day with severe and constant nausea and vomiting when eating or drinking. She could no longer attend high school alongside of her classmates. Her medical help for this condition is also two hours away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus Ohio.
There Sammie received a ground breaking medical device called a gastric neurostimulator ( a stomach pacemaker, for short). The surgery to implant this device required a 17 day hospital stay and many trips back and forth to have the pacer adjusted. After one year with the pacer it was deemed a failure and the Kings were sent to Nashville to Vanderbilt Medical Center, which meant a 6 hour one way drive and many overnight stays were needed. . Caroline (mom) and Sammie travelled to Nashville every month for 9 months. The doctors at Vanderbilt were unable to help Sammie’s condition and the family was sent to Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. In January 2013 Sammie received a new pacemaker, again requiring a long hospital stay and many trips back and forth. The doctors there were only able to briefly improve Sammie’s health.
Today Sammie is a high school senior and unable to attend regular classes in her high school. She has lost nearly all feeling in her feet and legs, as well as hands and arms. She still vomits after eating any solid food and relies on a feeding tube for life- saving nutrition. She continues to be seen by the doctors at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. Her doctors now believe that her auto immune system is overactive and is attacking her own body. Her team of doctors are desperately trying to keep her autoimmune system under control before she loses her life.
She currently receives IVIG treatments. This is an IV treatment that infuses good antibodies into Sammie’s body, at a cost of $11,000 which insurance does not cover completely.She has had 17 treatments and has 8 more scheduled. Sadly the treatments have not helped the nausea and vomiting, but Sammie and her family are not giving up HOPE!
During this time Randy Sammie’s father, has missed many doctor visits and even surgeries to continue working to support his family. The family is drowning under the weight of three years of expensive medical procedures and traveling to and from doctor appointments.
The family’s finances are grim, yet they continue to amaze all those around them with their grace- under- fire attitude and their faith is in God above.
All money donated during the 12 Days of Giving Back will go directly to the families and the specific bank accounts that they have set up through PayPal. All families chosen for this have been thoroughly screened and we feel you can donate confidently, knowing that your donation is going to a most-deserving family.