The Koehl Family

Since I started blogging I have often wondered why certain posts go viral. What exactly is the *it* factor that makes a person after person want to share? I am 100% an introvert and fame has never been a thing I have craved; I only started this blog to help me and hopefully help others. I’ve also had the same question about GoFundMe pages. Why does one person’s story of heartache reach hundreds of thousands of dollars when another person with an equally harrowing story never gets traction? I’ll never know the answers to these questions but I would like to share a story with you today about one of the latter.

When I was pregnant with Ollie I wanted to get my older brother’s childhood furniture refurbished for his nursery. I had heard of a store in Virginia Beach that did this for a reasonable price. This is how I met Shelley of Shelley’s Shabby Shack.  She took this furniture and truly gave it new life. I’m so in love with the way it turned out:

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We did not really keep in touch after she did this work. I would occasionally stop into the shop to see what she was working on and I followed her Instagram account. Fast forward to August of this year and on Instagram I saw that Shelley’s daughter, Fallon, had been in a bad car accident. I remember saying a prayer for them but not looking too much further into it. I think it had been one of those days that my heart could not handle any more sad. God knows what he is doing though, and he did not let me forget about this family. I just kept putting off his request to do something about it. Then this past Friday I had an appointment right near Shelley’s shop and decided to stop in. She was hard at work and I was hesitant to interrupt her but I knew that I had to.

I stopped her and told her I wasn’t sure if she remembered me but that I had been following Fallon’s story and I wanted to say I was sorry that they had been going through so much. I told her about the Begin Again Foundation and what our mission is and for her to keep it in mind…and amazing thing happened. Shelley started crying, the first time she had since the accident. We sat down and we shared our hearts with each other for nearly an hour. I left her shop that day feeling like I had to do more but I didn’t know what. We are still waiting on red tape things before our Foundation will really get going but I cannot sit and wait. So I am going to share this story of an amazing family because I think it’s one that you should know. I do not think they should be a GoFundMe page that sits there untouched when their need is so great.

I know what it’s like to have your life turned upside down because of one seemingly small incident. For me, it was an IUD removal and the use of tampons. For Fallon, it was the pop of a take out container…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Fallon was born in 1995 with a congenital heart defect. Her mortality rate was not an optimistic one and at just 9 months old she underwent open heart surgery at the Childrens Hospital of the King’s Daughters. At 3 years old she underwent a second one. When she was just a teenager in high school she learned that she would likely never be able to carry her own child. These struggles did not harden her. Instead it made her want to help others and so she entered into the Nursing Care Provider program through Sentara. She wanted to save her money so that she could one day attend Old Dominion University and pay her own tuition. She did not want to graduate in debt and so she worked, caring for other people the way she had been cared for as a child.

On August 17, 2015 Fallon was driving on her way to work at Virginia Beach General Hospital when her take out container of sushi popped open. The noise startled her and she glanced down for a second. In that second she lost control of her car and drove into a telephone poll. She was not texting. She was not inebriated. She was simply on her way to the hospital to do her job. She did make it to the hospital but via ambulance. It took them 1.5 hours to cut her out of the car.

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They were told that if she was not so small in stature that they may not have been able to get her out at all. When she arrived at a local hospital the anesthesiologists did not know how to properly put her under so that they could perform the necessary surgery on her leg and she was left untreated for 24hours. It was TWENTY-FOUR HOURS before Fallon was transferred to another local hospital where she received the care she needed. She was discharged just two days later. She was in pain but was told it was just normal recovery. They were wrong. She returned to the hospital and had to be operated on again due to compartment syndrome. She spent 23 days in the ICU. In total Fallon has been through nine surgeries and has also suffered a mini stroke. They are still unsure of whether Fallon will be able to keep her leg. In spite of this, they hold no anger towards the doctors that did not treat her immediately. They understand that doctors are also people, and they do not blame them for not knowing how to handle Fallon’s heart condition. They may be just *little* more understanding than many people would be. What I have told you so far is the part of the story that they have shared with the public. I don’t know why, but I am honored that Shelley has trusted me to share the rest of their story.

Shelley, Ted, Pat, and Fallon make up the Koehl family. As I stated before Shelley refurbishes furniture. Pat is in his senior year of college and is a reservist in the National Guard. Fallon worked at Virginia Beach General. Ted was a Fraud Investigator for Avis with 25 years of experience. Shelley and Ted taught their children to work hard. Pat bought his own car, a 1997 Dodge Intrepid, that unfortunately died on him. He and Fallon were sharing the car that she also purchased for herself, a 1998 Mitsubishi. That car is obviously out of commission now. Shelley drives a 2007 Sienna and Ted used to drive a 2002 PT Cruiser. I say that he used to drive it because the engine in his car broke in the parking lot of Virginia Beach General. It sits abandoned because they cannot afford to fix it. Fallon’s accident occurred on August 17th. On August 1st,  AVIS laid off Ted and 199 other employees. Shelley wanted to make sure that I included he was not the only one to lose his job. That is what kind of woman she is. A large reason why their son, Pat, joined the National Guard was because of the tuition assistance. Now as a senior the government has cut off this assistance. He is working. Shelley is working. Ted is applying for jobs daily but is continually being turned down because he has too much experience. They are a four person family with one working car. They are blessed that Fallon does have health insurance through the hospital. However, her specialist copays are $85 and she is seeing several specialists each week. They have to change her dressings three times daily and also give her injections. Shelley states that they are “lucky” because when Shelley has to go home to treat Fallon, Ted can keep her shop open. I want you take that in, she feels they are lucky.

To date they have raised $5,125 on Fallon’s GoFundMe page. They are grateful for every single cent that people have donated. That is not a small amount of money and they are well aware of this. But friends, can I be honest here? That money is long gone. Shelley is a small business owner. Yes, she does well, but that is their main source of income right now. There is no end in sight to their medical bills. They are humble people who have not asked for help before this year. I cannot tell you how many times Shelley has thanked me but I have done nothing, yet. I am praying with all my might that by sharing their story that WE can help them. My favorite blogger, Glennon of Momastery, always says WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. There is NO SUCH THING as someone else’s child. And We can do hard things. The Koehl Family is doing some really hard things right now. They belong to us. Fallon may not be a child anymore, but she will always be Shelley and Ted’s child. There is no such thing as someone else’s child. Can we band together and help them? Can you give up Starbucks for one day and give them the $5 you would spend on that latte? I promise you they will be grateful. I’m not trying to guilt you if you honestly cannot. Of course you must take care of your family first…but I do know that many of my friends are blessed with enough to spare just a few dollars to help some wonderful people who truly need and deserve it. Please share their story. It is one that deserves to go viral.

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