Monday, July 9, 2012

A Letter From Danny's Mother

On May 6, 2011, a man broke into my daughter's home. He forever changed all of our lives that day. He hid in the dark early morning hours, and forced his way in. This man attacked my daughter, stabbing her multiple times. Her brother, Danny, heard her screams, and ran to her aid, changing his life forever.

I'd tried all morning to get my daughter, and then my son, by phone, text, and email. It was very unusual not hearing from them. Concerned, I called my husband, who was working at a job site, and told him. I thought I was being paranoid, but he needed to go check on them. He proceeded to pack up his gear.

In the mean time, my children's one year old shepherd had barked for 6 hours straight. This puppy woke my daughter, Kelly. Her barking saved our son's life. My daughter called me, knowing she was sick and hurt, but not what was wrong. My daughter fought blood loss and multiple injuries to make that call. That call saved both of their lives. My youngest son, Kyle, got home, and I sent him too. He and his dad, Jim, got there right behind each other. I sent them into a nightmare, neither will ever forget. Things like this just don't happen in real life. It's too horrid to be real; but it is.

Sally - the beautiful dog that saved Kelly and Danny's lives
I've been told it's the worst crime scene the police and EMTs had ever seen. My two children laid in pools of their own blood for 6 hours before help arrived. They were stabbed in the brain, chest, neck, and arm. Once I heard from Jim, he told me to go to UC Hospital because my children would be aircared there.

Danny had to be resuscitated at sight. He barely made it to Mercy Fairfield Hospital. Aircare picked him up there. At that time, my daughter was already at UC Hospital, arriving by aircare. I was told she would have brain surgery, and then turned around and was told Danny had arrived and would be having brain surgery. Can you even imagine?

After receiving that news, I had to call my other son, Ryan (a US Army MP). He was stationed in Seattle after being deployed in Iraq for a year and a half. I had to tell him we didn't know if they would live or not, it didn't look good, and to get home as fast as he could.

Because this was a high profile case, we were told by law enforcement to not talk to anyone, and were placed on lock down. We were asked to maintain our silence. We did. We talked to no one, and just waited to see if our children would live.

Our daughter, Kelly, is an assistant prosecutor for Butler County. She is back to work, working to reclaim her life. We try to shield her from the curious. 

Because of our silence no one knows how badly our son, Danny, was hurt. Danny was stabbed 19 times in the brain. His right hand had multiple defense wounds.

His tendons were severed. He was kicked so hard his spleen was lacerated. Danny's injuries have been compared to Congress Woman Gabby Gifford. His skull was so crushed it took a year, minus 2 days, to get a skull cap replacement in. Danny has had 5 surgeries in the last year. Now we're fighting to get his life back.

Danny has aphasia, which means he has trouble talking, reading, and writing,devastating to a young man who had just finished law school. He wanted to be a defense attorney, to make a difference. Danny used to play the drums, but can no longer use his right arm. Danny walks with a limp, but he walks two miles every day.

Danny is our hero. He saved our daughter's life, but at a great cost. Danny loves sports. He played baseball, football, and soccer. He loved to read, and play the drums. He's lost it all.

His attacker was trained in the martial art tai chi. He brought a weapon called a skull crusher with him. He was sentenced to 21 years in prison for destroying a life and forever changing our family's lives.

I'm writing to ask for your help. Danny has Anthem insurance. They pay for 30 therapies a year. We got him on Medicaid, and they pay for 20 a year. Mercy Hospital is helping, but only for three therapies a week. We're told for Danny to get better he needs more, closer to 9 therapy sessions each week. He takes Speech, Occupational, and Physical therapy 3 times each week now. We're to send him to the University of Michigan UMAP program for speech. It's around $27,000 for 4-5 weeks of therapy, and his insurance doesn't pay for this. His doctors and therapists say he could need to go several times. Room and board for Danny and his caregiver (his dad will go with him) is not included in the cost. Neither is the cost of the other ongoing two therapies, physical and occupational.

I've never asked anyone for anything. My husband and I have worked since we were young teens, but I'm asking for help now. Can you help my son?

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you can offer any help or
ideas it will be greatly appreciated. 

Love to all,


  1. Kathy,

    You might also try the Patient Advocate Foundation. They're knowledgeable regarding resources available to patients in need and may be able to connect you to assistance.

  2. Kathy - You and I have never met but I've spent many hours in the UC ICU waiting room with your husband. Danny and Kelly were in ICU with my husband who suffered a traumatic brain injury on May 9, 2011.

    I have thought about your family often in the past fourteen months and have kept you in my prayers. I am definitely forwarding your blog post on to friends and I will post it on my Facebook page.

    I'm praying that Danny gets the help he needs.

    Sharon Cullen

    1. Sharon, it's so good to hear from you. Jim spoke of you often. We tried to reach you after we got home. I hope you are all doing well. Thank you for helping, Kathy

    2. Kathy,
      This is John. If it is okay with you, Sharon and I would like to visit with you again. I remember Danny when we were both inpatients at Drake. My thoughts are with your family.

    3. John, tried to reach you by email. If not please friend me on facebook and i'll send you contact info... looking forward to seeing you, Kathy

  3. So sorry to hear this story. Many prayers go out to you and the entire family. If you need further fundraising help with continuing to raise funds for the medical costs, check out They are an online site and you can set up a fundraising page for free. I have used them in the past for and they are amazing!


    Jessica Cowin

  4. I am working to generate a revenue stream through the thousands of Flyers that follow us on UDPride. In the meantime, please accept our initial donation in the hope it brings you one step closer to meeting Danny's needs. Go Flyers.

    Chris Rieman, Founder

  5. Kathy,
    I initially heard Danny & Kelly's story through my cousin, Mary Nienaber. Your family is in my prayers and I am hopeful and faithful that great things are going to happen!
    It sounds like you have some very brave and strong children who love each other very much. That is something to be VERY proud of!
    Best Wishes for continued healing and recovery,
    Emily Stapf, Knoxville, TN

  6. Kathy,

    My thoughts are with you and your family. Please post your request on the reddit website.. An easy way to reach lots of people who are willing to help..

  7. Dear Kathy,
    I met Danny my freshman year at UD. He is a incredibly sweet, funny and intelligent man. I remember him mentioning how close he was with his sister. I am terribly saddened to hear this and my thoughts and prayers are with Danny, his sister and your entire family. I wish him a strong recovery. I will share this and hope we can all come together to support a fellow friend and UD Flyer.
    Lauren Onsa

  8. O'Keefe Family,

    I kept seeing friends from UD posting this blog and finally took a second to read this devastating story. I am so upset after reading this story but so moved by the devotion of love. I have never met your son or daughter but believe in the power of UD alumni. Please accept my donation as a fellow flyer and a believer in the impossible. I will pray for Danny and your family as the healing process continues. You have a huge and dedicated community raising awareness about your need for support.

    Stay strong and believe in the impossible!

  9. Dear O'Keefe Family,

    I learned of this tragedy on Facebook through my daughter Allison Bemis who is a U.D. Alum. My wife and I are sending out our prayers to all of you in the family and we are deeply upset that this has happened to you.We believe in the healing power of God. We wish that your son and daughter are able to heal quickly. Please accept our donation with the belief that with God all things are possible. Our hearts and hope go out to all in the family.


    Tony and Sue Bemis
    Parents of Allison Bemis

  10. I will keep your family in my prayers.

  11. im so sorry your family had to go through this, i dont have any money to give, but you will all be in my thoughts.

    i hope your children heal quickly and you all find peace.


  12. Hey Kathy,

    I have someone that is willing to help your family in the greatest way possible. He would like to know as much information as possible about Danny's therapy. Is it more physical therapy? Please email me at and I'll get you in touch with him as soon as possible.


  13. What home exercise equipment would be useful for Danny to have at home. If there is anything let me know. I probably have it sitting in storage and would love to get it to him.

  14. Hi Kathy.
    I could not imagine the pain you must have been through, and are still going through. While I cannot help at the moment, I will share the story.
    I also encourge you to check out the site - a place where ordinary people can become heroes and help people in any way possible. I think that there would some people there able to help.
    Good luck to your family! I hope everything gets better.

  15. Kathy,
    I first heard of your story from my son, who was a prosecutor also, & had to go to the crime scene. He asked me to keep your family & your son & daughter in my prayers back then. I'm glad to hear how your daughter & son have recovered. I know your son is still recovering. I want to encourage you with hope because I personally have seen what medical, science, & prayers can do. Expecially the support of family as your son has in you & your family.
    I have a brother who died & after 7 attempts, the EMTs were able to revive him. He suffered brain injury due to the loss of oxygen to the brain. He spent time at Craig Hospital, here in Denver. He was like an infant, couldn't even roll over nor hold his head up. He had to relearn everything. They said he would never walk. NOT TRUE. Under my brother's care of our brother, he went from the wheel chair, then walker, then a cane. He now walks along holding on to our shoulders. He does not have short term memory. But with continually repeating things to him over a period of time, some how, some way, his brain has learned to remember things & just needs prodding to help him recall.
    So I know your love & support you give to Danny is doing as much for him as his therapy.
    I recently researched a product used in Europe & is now available on line here in the US. I have a twin sister who is starting to show signs of dementia or alzheimer, & I wanted to find something, anything that could help. This product I believe will help my sister, & my brother as well. It is called Piracetam. It is sold in the US as Nootropyl.
    We haven't yet tried this because I only got this info from a coworker only last Sunday. But I googled it, & am impressed with what I read. My sister is seeing a Dr in a wk from now, & she is letting me go with her. I plan on showing this info to the Dr to see her opinion. I hope you find this info helpful.
    I will be in Ohio visiting next wk with my son & his family. I will personally give my son a ck for your son Danny. You already have my prayers.

  16. Kathy - I went to UD with Danny, and while I didn't know him well, he is a familiar face...and this story is both incredibly devastating and inspiring. I work in public relations in NYC and would love to help get your family's story out there so that more people can help. If that's something you're open to, I'd be happy to help in my spare time... Please feel free to email me at I wish you and your family all the best and pray for Danny to continue his progress and keep smiling.

  17. I remember Kelly fondly from 3rd grade at St. Mary School. She went out of her way to befriend my daughter when we first moved here, and she desperately needed a friend. You have obviously done a superior job of raising a close, loving family. How can anyone not help a family like yours when such a tragedy strikes? I can only imagine the day-to-day struggle you all face, but pray that God will continue to give you moments of great joy!
    Judy Wickert

  18. I remember Danny from high school. There are no memories of Danny that aren't positive. He is an amazing guy, always funny and cheerful. He was nothing but nice, which is rare in an all boys high school. This couldn't have happened to anyone less deserving of it than Danny. I will help with what I can and will let others know about this.

    I wish your family all the best,
    Sawson Salehpour

  19. Dear Kathy,

    Thanks for sharing your story and reaching out for help from the UD family. You may not be aware of this but UD has a Doctor of Physical Therapy program and I am the neurology coordinator. While we do not provide ongoing therapy at UD perhaps there is some way we can help Danny out. I have a few thoughts or ideas. Feel free to contact me by phone 937-229-5605 or email

    Kurt Jackson PT, PhD

  20. Kathy,
    Your family and Danny have been in my thoughts and prayers since I read about the tragedy. While many of the posts go back to high school, I can go back to Danny's days in first grade. While it seems generations ago, I can remember, even at the age of 6, how thoughtful and caring Danny always was. He was the one, quiet as he was, who always stood up for anyone who was at the end of an injustice. He always gave 150% even when things were a little tough for him (as I'm sure he's till doing through all of this). I'm a firm believer that God has placed "special angels" on Earth and, after reading through the other blogs and about the love Danny has spread to all he meets, I know that he is one of them. Give my love to Danny, a student and fellow Flyer. He and your family will continue to be in my prayers. If I can help in any way, please feel free to contact me a Fondly, Jan Enia

  21. Dear Kathy, After the murder of my daughter in 1997 in a similar crime I became a crime victim's advocate. As such, I frequently recommend the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) in Washington, D.C. for support and referrals. Also, I assume you have been directed to the Michigan Crime Victim's Compensation Board which can offer financial assistance through a state fund.
    I am so very sorry that you and your family have to endure this but so grateful that your children survived. If I can be of any assistance you can reach me at Sincerely, Janice Grieshaber Geddes, Syracuse, NY