I remember after my heart transplant I would swipe my debit card for over $700 for some monthly meds. Oh, and that was after discounts! I also just received my new insurance bill for nearly $1,200. It’s all a long story, but at a time like this most people could be freaking out. I, however, am thankful.
I figure a lot of other people these days wouldn’t have that amount of money available just to drop on medicines or out-of-the-ordinary bills. Because of family and friends I was in the position to pay for these things immediately.
When I was in the hospital several different people held fundraisers for me or donated money themselves. I am still so incredibly thankful. The largest fundraiser held for me was by a company known as VIVE. I actually know the owners of VIVE. They were my sister and my brother at the time. To be honest, it’s my brother-in-law but he’s always been more like a true brother. Both are very creative individuals who have a huge heart to help others. They dreamed of starting a clothing company together that would give them and others the opportunity to help people in need.
It quickly seemed like just a dream when I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. They were there for me as much as anyone could be, so who had time to start a new business? Mandi visited me as much as she could. When she wasn’t with me she was working, picking Kinsley (her daughter; my sweet niece) up from the sitters, or probably praying for me. Kyle tried to have fun when I was in the hospital, but it seemed every time he tried to play a round of golf, or watch a basketball game something serious would happen with my health. Immediately they would both appear at my side (even if he had to travel 5 hours back home to see me, after just arriving at his destination). It was amazing the love I felt from my sister who would hold my hand, brush my hair, massage my feet, buy me new undies, and paint my nails..... I could go on and on. She helped me feel pretty during the most unflattering time of my life. It is hard to feel pretty with bloody bandages, tubes, oxygen, new scars, no makeup, unwashed hair, and not to mention a hospital gown. Kyle wasn’t able to help with all that, but he did make me feel more loved than ever before. The way he would come in the room and only focus on me was an incredible feeling. There could be a lot going on around, but Kyle was holding my hand, staring at me, or gently stroking my hair. He didn’t always have things to say and that’s okay because a lot of the time I didn’t have anything to say either. Silence is golden. The way he would say, “Love you sis” and kiss my forehead on his way out is something I will cherish forever.
Everyone could see I was growing ill very quickly while waiting for the perfect donor heart. Already having had life saving open heart surgery, as well as other surgeries my bills were quickly adding up. I was living every day in the ICU with several IV medicines, oxygen, respirators, therapy... I felt like every other day the doctors were inserting another breathing tube or experimenting with something new or replacing the bandages that held my broken chest bone together... Every day was something new. Every day was more money. Obviously I did not have time to worry or think about that, but I am glad my loved ones did.
Mandi and Kyle thought this was the perfect opportunity to jump start their dream. They quickly got everything together, created a t-shirt, and told anyone and everyone to help support me. The shirt was not only designed to help pay for my medical bills, but it was to raise awareness for organ donation. VIVE said “Organ donation isn’t something you typically think about until someone you love is depending on it, and we wanted to make sure more people were thinking about it now”.
VIVE sold out of their inventory quickly and had to order more shirts. They were successful in helping me tremendously and raising awareness for something so important. They gave me $5,000 to spend on my medical bills and I am truly grateful. It is because of people like them I am able to continue to pay for medical bills.
I wouldn’t be able to live life the way I do without the help of VIVE. Thank you so much for being there for me in the time of need.
Everyone should strive to be a little bit more like VIVE. They have invested their time and their money, not to reap benefits, but to give to just causes and help those in need.
"Fashioning just cause is our VIVE. What's yours?"
-Written by Megan Johnson