Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Imaginary Friend with Real Need

Through the wonder of the internet, I've made imaginary friends who have become real ones. I am a true believer in the reality of friendship with people you've never stood in the same room with. Through online boards like Readerville and Freelance Success, my horizons have expanded exponentially, and I've met many fabulous people.

Sometimes, though, the news isn't so fabulous. On Freelance Success, we've been alerted to the plight of Lori Hall Steele, a writer and single mom in Michigan. Over the past year, she's been hit with a devastating diagnosis--first chronic Lyme disease, and now ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease). She's at home, on a ventilator, and being tended to by her overwhelmed mom. She has a 7 year old son, whom she writes about beautifully in this essay, published in The Washington Post just a few months ago. She is paralyzed, unable to work, and in danger of losing her house to foreclosure. She's received several emergency grants from ASJA (the American Society of Journalists and Authors), but it's a drop in the bucket, between medical bills and mortgage payments. The call has gone out to help Lori--help that can come from friends and strangers alike.

There's a website that gives more details about Lori's situation, and a way to donate via PayPal, to an emergency fund for Lori that will allow her and her family to remain in their house. ASJA has challenged its members to give $25, and the challenge was extended to Freelance Success members. There's also a blog-a-thon going on to try to get the word out about Lori's plight. (A list of blogs that talk about Lori is here.)

I turned 42 today. (More about that later.) Lori is 44. I can't imagine the life I have now turning into the kind of life she has now, but it could happen to any of us. If you can donate, please do. If you can write about Lori and spread the word, please do that too. This definitely seems like a time when it's going to take a very extended internet village to help this family.

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