Recent grad uses social media to seek help for mother’s doctor bills
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 11:01
On a Friday evening last September, 2012 graduate Chris Graves finished preparing for a date, and walked outside his house to talk to his mother. He found her struggling to drag herself against the wall outside their house, and the right side of her face was sagging.
His mother was suffering from a stroke. After going to the hospital and having her blood thinned and a procedure to reverse the paralysis on her right side, Graves was stuck with thousands of dollars in medical costs and rent, and risked losing his home if he did not come up with a way to pay for the expenses.
“I saw my Canadian friend, Erin, post on her Facebook that she wanted to go back to school, and her friends donated enough through crowdsourcing to go back in just a few days,” he said. “I wondered if this would work with my mom’s medical costs. So I signed up on gofundme.com, told my mom’s story, and started spreading it to friends and family on Facebook. Within the first 12 hours, we had over $200. I was completely blown away.”
Graves’ goal on the site is to raise $7,500, which will allow them to keep their home, keep his mother insured for three to four months, and her prescriptions and doctor visits paid for while they wait for the disability claim to process.
Because of the site and people’s donations, Graves said that in less than a week, he and his mother went from plotting their move out of their house in February because they could not afford their rent, to keeping their home through the end of February.
“It is like a weight has been lifted from our shoulders,” he said. “Strangers have posted messages on the site saying how moved they are by our story. It is also really exciting to see my friends get excited when their friends or family donate. I am so touched by how eager people are to help.”
The majority of stroke recovery happens within the first 30 to 90 days, so Graves said he worked as much overtime as he could and pawned as many possessions as possible to be able to afford his mother’s rehabilitation.
“Her speech is still her biggest weakness,” he said. “It is a battle to keep her motivated to practice, and to keep stressing to her the importance of not giving up when she forgets what she was trying to say.”
While his mother has been recovering well, he said that they did have a brief scare the day after Christmas.
“She went to walk the dog a couple minutes before I left for work,” Graves said. “It was very snowy and icy, and after being at work for almost an hour I got a call from her. She told me she slipped twice on the ice in the park across the street from our house and could not get up. She spent an hour in the snow and wet dirt unable to get up before the neighbors found her and helped her home. She just does not have the strength in her legs to be able to push her body up from the ground.”
If funds continue to come in, Graves said, he will get her back into rehabilitation to help practice and build on her lower body strength. For now, they mostly focus on speech therapy. Five percent of all donations, plus any unused funds will be donated to the National Stroke Foundation and the American Stroke Association.
“My hopes for the page going forward are that it gets picked up and continues to go viral,” he said. “I plan on posting some updates, like a video thank you from my mom so everyone can see how she is doing. I will post pictures of the donation checks we write as well. Not only are the donations helping us financially; they are mending my mom’s broken spirit. This is the most upbeat I have seen my mom since her stroke.”
To donate to the cause, visit http://www.gofundme.com/helppamgraves, or share the link on social media sites to spread the word.