Melissa Smith of Annapolis, Maryland was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2006 at the age of 22, and again at age 29. Soon after, she developed a rare neurological disease called Transverse Myelitis, in which the immune system attacks the spinal cord. She was left paralyzed from the waist down, with the possibility of never walking again.
She was kicked out of nursing school, and was told her insurance would only cover 30 physical therapy visits a year. As if her situation couldn't get worse, she was basically trapped in her third-floor walk-up apartment, and could only leave if someone carried her down and then back up the stairs.
Melissa's luck finally started to turn when her sister Stephanie began an online fundraising campaign using GoFundMe, hoping to raise funds for Melissa's medical bills. Chive Charities then featured her story on their website and donated $50,000 to her cause. One day after Chive promoted her fundraiser on their site, an additional $298,000 had been raised.
Donors have pledged nearly $400,000 to Melissa to date, breaking the Chive Charities' previous fundraising record. She plans to use those funds to pay off medical bills and to put a down payment on a handicap-accessible house. "You say I'm inspiring you guys, but the encouragement I'm receiving is pretty inspiring," Melissa wrote on her fundraising page.
"It's not the end of her journey because of money, it's not going to make her walk again," her sister tells WBAL TV. "It's not going to do anything physically for her. But emotionally, mentally, spiritually... it's changed her life."
If you'd like to donate to help Melissa, visit her GoFundMe page.
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