Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update about Danny: Amazing progress

Hi. I just got back from a weekend visit with Danny. Danny is really happy there. He’s working hard. We went to dinner and took a couple of walks in the fall leaves. On Saturday, we found a place to get Danny’s hair cut. The guy, Mr. Jackson did a great job, Danny loved it. Afterwards, Danny had his massage to help loosen his muscles. They donated this to Danny! It was a beautiful weekend. I would like to know, why it rains every time I drive there??

Each time I see Danny, I can see small improvements. He has more control when he lifts his right arm and it seems stronger too. It’s a small improvement but it’s an improvement.

Danny hasn’t been able to take his daily walk. He’s busy with his speech, OT, and PT. His day is starting at early. First session is at 9:00 and he’s going until after 6 with his OT and PT. He’s usually very tired at night.

It’s exciting each time I go up to Michigan and see the changes. The changes seem small, but it’s been 18 months since Danny has said a sentence to me. He recited two sentences to me, after his first week there. His reading is slowing improving as well. It’s hard to watch him struggle so. He’s remarkable in his never ending work ethics. He does his homework religiously. He’ll go over and over words till he has them just right. When you talked to Danny, he had a very limited vocabulary. He’d say just a few words and only one at a time. Now his vocabulary has greatly improved and we get a couple or three words at a time. At night Danny and I text and I would get a one word text. This week, I got a three words , “love you mom”. As you can imagine, I got teary.

UMAP has been very good for Danny. His therapists agrees. They would like to see Danny be able to stay at UMAP. As you know, the program is close to $1000/per day. We need your help in keeping him there. Please help us spread Danny’s story. We need everyone’s help in doing this. You all have helped us so much already, THANK YOU!

Ways to help: 1) donate directly to UMAP (earmarked for Danny) and get their tax ID number.
                       2) donate Marriott points
                       3) donate to any Fifth/Third Bank under The O’Keefe Family Assistance Fund.
                       4) donate with paypal on the help the O’Keefe Family blog.
                       5) help us spread the word
                       6) share your ideas!

Thank you for helping us get Danny’s life back.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From Danny's Cousin

“Who is your hero” is a question that I have been asked many times. Before, I could never quite grasp the concept of what a hero was. I knew that superheroes were people in comic books who had super powers, but I had never met someone like that. Did heroes truly exist? After seventeen years of searching for the answer, I found it. I found the one man to call my “Superman,” and it is my cousin Danny.

Danny is your typical twenty-seven year old guy who enjoys hanging out with friends and can always be found watching football. He never hesitates to ask me how I am, and I will never forget the time he asked me to dance at our cousin’s wedding. Danny always knew what he wanted for his future, and he worked hard to accomplish that task. On the first try, he passed the BAR exam and began his career as an aspiring defense attorney. Danny was on the right path towards a successful life, until one day one person took everything away.

I can still hear the words, “A brother and sister were found stabbed in their home” blasting through the speakers of the TV on that day in May. I had watched the story unfold on at least three different news stations, and I couldn’t stop searching the internet to find out more. All I knew was that Danny was in brain surgery, and the odds were against him.

It was his sister’s ex-boyfriend who pushed his way inside their house determined to kill. Danny heard his sister’s screams while getting ready for work and ran to her rescue. Because of this, he was stabbed nineteen times in the brain, the tendons in his right arm were severed, and he was kicked so hard that his spleen was lacerated. Now you might make the conclusion that this is the reason why I call Danny my “superman,” but there is more to the story.

One year and five surgeries later, Danny is fighting to get his life back. His days have switched from dealing with law cases to re-learning how to talk, read, and walk. He walks for two hours each day, despite a limp, and works on being able speak more words than “yes”. He has defied all the odds thus far, and I believe that in time he will be able to present his skills as a defense attorney.

Through all of this, Danny has changed my outlook on life. Before, I used to complain about simple tasks, such as going to work, but now I think of what Danny is doing at that moment. I know that he is working hard through the frustration and that gives me motivation. As I reflect back on my time with Danny, I notice that he has always inspired me, but I could never see it. Today, those inspirations are stronger than they have ever been. I believe that if Danny can do it then so can I.

I am fighting with Danny to get his life back by working hard at everything I do. Besides, every hero needs a sidekick, and I am ready to show Danny that I have all of the qualifications.

written by Meghan, Cousin to Danny