Monday, December 15, 2014

Sam's de-LIVER-y: More to the Story

Michiana. The seven-county area which encompasses Southern Michigan and Northern Indiana. Home to University of Notre Dame. Home to the 2nd largest Amish settlement. Home to my brother Sam and his wife Jenny.

Growing up the middle of seven children in a moderate-income household, Sam knows all too well how to pull his own weight and what it means to sacrifice. As my sister Sarah said, "[Sam's] the kind of guy who would do anything he could to help another and he'd do it with a smile on his face as he put a smile back on yours." So true.

This past Friday, on December 12th 2014, Sam had liver transplant surgery. As emotions ran high for the entire "Miller Clan" (as we call ourselves), it was hard for me to be across the country instead of near my brother and his family. It was even harder on my parents (who now reside in Nevada).

My family and I prayed. Then, I baked. A lot. Anything to keep my mind occupied. My siblings/siblings-in-law wanted to create a fundraising website for Sam. We researched the least expensive with the quickest turnaround time (and best reputation). We found recommendations from Forbes for CrowdRise.

Here is the story you'll find when you click on the above link to their fundraiser page:

Twelve years ago, Sam was diagnosed with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC), a rare liver disease. It wasn't long after the amazing team at IU Medical saved his life (the first time), he met his soon-to-be-bride, Jenny. Ten years ago they married and much of their "for better or worse" has been spent riding the roller coaster of this disease, in and out of surgeries to keep him alive. Last year, after nearly 8 1/2 years of marriage, Sam & Jenny received word they were selected as the adoptive parents to little Lucy. Hands down, 2013 was the best Mother's Day ever! Sam and Jenny poured every dime they had (and then some) into bringing home their sweet little baby. They hold a special place in their hearts for Lucy's "tummy Mommy", for her generosity and sacrifice, so Sam and Jenny could have a family. Jenny left her career to stay home and care for Lucy, leaving Sam as the sole financial provider. While thrilled at the miraculous blessing of parenthood, their finances took a major hit in making this happen. Just a few days ago, December 11th 2014, Sam received word of another family's generosity and sacrifice. He would receive a Christmas miracle -- a new liver within 24 hours. As smoothly as everything has gone so far, Sam still has a long road of recovery ahead. Instead of returning home (170 miles away) they need to stay in Indianapolis for the next several weeks, so his new liver can be monitored every 2-3 days. Each day spent away from home means more time off work and more expenses incurred. After all they have struggled through, our goal is to alleviate some of the financial strain on the family while Sam recuperates. The medical bills will far exceed our goal of raising $20,000, but it is our hope that with enough "little miracles" the family will be off to a good start in this next chapter in their lives. Please help us by Supporting Sam's Special De-LIVER-y!

But there is more to Sam's story than I could fit on the site:

Other than for surgery, Sam has never missed a day of scheduled work. He is a hard worker who doesn't expect anything for free.

Sam works for AM General and layoffs are a common occurrence. When the housing bubble burst and the economy tanked a few years back, Sam found himself laid off again. Eventually, he and Jenny sold their home and downsized to save money. Now they share a home with other family members, and once again, Sam has just been laid off.

Whenever I speak to Sam or Jenny, I never hear about how it isn't fair that Sam is sick. They don't complain that they are continually having to make cuts in their budget to make ends meet. They serve faithfully in their church each week, continually looking for ways to help others.

To hear them acknowledge their blessings, it is obvious they are grateful people. They are grateful for their baby's biological parents, grateful for even the smallest good health, and grateful for the love and support they receive from family and friends.

This past weekend, they shed many tears at IU Medical, and not just for the miracle of a liver, but with heavy hearts for the generous family who is mourning a loved one, selflessly donating a liver to Sam.

Sam & Jenny have been through many ups and downs and they never give up. Their perseverance, combined with their gracious humility is what makes these two so deserving of any donation they receive.

It's been amazing how quickly people have responded to the online donation site! In the first 24 hours, we've reached nearly 20% of our fundraising goal. When Jenny and Sam found out, they were overcome with emotion. They were not expecting this at all.

If you have a desire to help my brother and his sweet family financially, you may make a donation {{here}} Also, please feel to share this link on Facebook or Pinterest or wherever else you think might attract interest. The more people who find out about it, the better chance we have of helping Sam pay for his medical expenses.

Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." I think this is quite fitting for my brother's situation and for this holiday season. If you can't give financially here, then find a way to give to someone somewhere this season. God bless!

One more time on the link in case you missed it:
{{Click HERE to be redirected to CrowdWise}}

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