One word to describe her: Hopeful
Melissa has lived in Peoria most of her life, and shares that her family is her greatest joy. She loves spending quality time with her daughter and her grandchildren, and is very active with them – spending as much time with them as she can. She has worn several different hats in her career, working in real estate, interior design, small businesses, and building management. She has a deep passion for the arts.
She remembers coming to Easterseals at a very young age, and shares her memories of Dr. Hugh Cooper – one of the founders of Easterseals Central Illinois. “I can picture him… a big white mustache!” She states that although she didn’t like a lot of the excercises she was required to do for therapy, Dr. Cooper had a kindness about him that caused her not to fear. Melissa shares that many doctors in that era didn’t really discuss serious topics in front of children, but he and her pediatrician made it their priority to communicate with her family and find a cutting edge doctor to help her with her scoliosis. “If it wasn’t for Dr. Cooper’s team, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” She shares that because of the abilities she has, she keeps herself educated on the muscular system and that this community has been a wonderful place for her since. Easterseals gives children many different services that they need, making it an incredible resource for all boys and girls out there with scoliosis.
Melissa shares that she can think of no better future than one where all children are able to feel safe and accepted. To her, inclusion means acceptance, kindness, and a consideration of other people’s feelings. For Melissa, feeling empowered means feeling courageous and unstoppable. She shares that the moment in her life that has brought her the most empowerment occurred when she was just a little girl. “When I was 9 years old, I had spent one year lying flat in a full body cast. When the cast came off, my doctor told me that I could do anything I wanted for the rest of my life. From that day, no matter what was happening, I realized that no matter what, I could always keep moving forward.”