Welcome to the Team Avery Website!

In the spring of 2008 my then 19-month old daughter Avery lost most of her sight to congenital cataracts.
The Delta Gamma Center for Visual Impairments in St. Louis was there for our family in our greatest time of need; teaching us how to alter our lives to incorporate a visually impaired child. To help them continue helping other families like us, we have formed Team Avery/ Team Margaret. ***To read about Avery's story, go to the Archives and visit Blog "Avery's Story" from January 24th, 2010.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Our Happy Ending


By now you have figured out that my blog updates come few and far between. I admire anyone who can write every day, because these days I’m just lucky to get my kids fed and off to school without a hitch. Cooking? Laundry? Blogging? Now that’s pushing it!

First, a VERY belated thank you to everyone who participated in May's 18th Annual Run for Sight (yes, May. Um, I'm  a little behind). I still tear up when I think about the over 120 contributers to TEAM AVERY: a journalist who donated, twice, in honor of his sister; my sweet girlfriend Jenny whose  daughter has had a worse fight than Avery; my sister, brother-in-law, and Lulu, who drove 20 hours round-trip from Atlanta (with a screaming baby) to support us; girlfriends from days past whose generosity I will never forget; sorority sisters forever in my heart; new friends and old friends joining together...my aunt, may she rest in peace, fighting cancer for the third time and yet telling me repeatedly that she was inspired by my child. 

In my Letter to Avery I wrote about our overwhelming success, and I apologize that I never posted pictures of everyone who showed up.  Here is a link to the results page: http://www.dgckids.org/runforsight/  or http://www.dgckids.org/  We actually ranked 3rd place in fundraising, and Brian and I donated the prize to another DG family. I will never forget the image of over forty people wearing pink in honor of my little girl. A shadow box in Avery Claire's new room holds her tee shirt from the day, as well as the TEAM AVERY group picture and other memorabilia from her two Run for Sights. I hope it will always serve as a reminder to Avery of how special she is, and how big an impact one little girl can make.

I want to next acknowledge that this blog has been my family’s story – and my heart - put out there for anyone to read. It is full of my experiences and my opinions. Our world was shattered when our first-born child suddenly lost her sight one Spring. We have been open from the beginning in the hopes that Team Avery would touch someone’s life; that from our darkness another person might find light. I am extremely proud that so much money and awareness has been raised from our child's story. But when I first opened up our life to cyberspace, I never dreamed how other people would touch my life back. This journey has introduced me to friends and kids with similar and worse situations, and you all have been a source of inspiration in times of doubt. It is anyone’s right to judge me, laugh at me, or roll your eyes while you read. I know I’m no one special. I’m just a mother of an amazing little girl whose world turned dark…and I chose to write about it.

 It has now been one month since Avery Claire’s last eye surgery; two months since we began our final attempt to improve her sight. I won’t bore you with details, except to mention that two hours into the first surgery our surgeon came out to reconsent us. He wanted us to know that a lens looked impossible given the anatomy of Avery’s eye and the toll the disease took on surrounding tissue.

Which is why it gives me immense pleasure to tell you that Avery has not one, but two synthetic lenses now…one in each eye. Astonishing success. She has gone from not being able to even SEE your typical eye chart – let alone the letters on it – to having 20/25 vision in both eyes. Without correction. She currently functions without glasses, although she will be getting a prescription for bifocals to help her read. It is absolutely the best-case scenario for Avery’s situation, and in our hearts, a miracle. Sometimes my husband and I just look at each other and say, “the nightmare is over.” From such pain has come unbelievable joy.

 Someone once cruelly described my daughter in her cataract glasses as “someone who looks like she rides the short bus.” Today you could not pick her out of a crowd of other preschoolers. Instead of immediately noticing that Avery Claire has a disability, you will now meet her and notice her sparkly brown eyes, curly blonde hair, and happy grin. Watching her play one afternoon, it struck me that anyone who meets my little girl from now on will not immediately know what she has gone through. The three years of surgeries, the therapy, the tears…it is all neatly tucked away and becoming part of her past. Maybe when someone gets to know Avery they will learn her story,  but it is no longer an attention-grabbing disability or the elephant in the room.

 While I will never be glad that Avery had to go through this disease, I will forever be thankful for the lessons it taught me. Like to strive to find a blessing in each day. Even the bad ones. As clich√© as it sounds, the things you take for granted today may be ripped away from you tomorrow. 

 I learned that there are always people who have it worse…but that does not mean your tragedy isn’t horrible. I think it is okay to have moments where you are angry, sad, and think life is unfair. But I don’t want to live my whole life like that. There exists a choice: to become a victim or to use your grief to change the world around you. I want to look back and think that our struggle made a difference. 

And finally, I saw firsthand how the support of family and friends can get you through your darkest days. Thank you for your love…and most of all, for the way it made me strong for my little girl.

 It’s very easy to talk breezily about “the things I’ve learned from Avery’s blindness.” Of course it is. I had the fairy-tale ending. My daughter’s complicated case made her final result practically a miracle. Most of the children we know do not have stories with happy endings. For that reason, our family will continue to raise funds and awareness for kids that have visual impairments. I will still hit you up to participate in various events; to support a cause I will always have a personal connection to. Team Avery will live on as a tribute to my little girl, and more importantly, our small way of touching the futures of children not as lucky as she was.


See you this Spring.


Michelle aka Mommy said...

such a great and happy ending! AH-MAZING! truly amazing. sigh of relief for everyone.

i'm curiuos though - (besides the "color red firetruck, BROTHER") - what does avery have to say about all this? you should totally VLOG it! i'd love to see that video!!

Brook said...

Such a happy story. I am so happy for Avery and your family. Maybe now you can finally give her that Pinwheel :) Love you both and we miss you in the Lou :)

jodypkearney said...

She is just so beautiful and will one day read all of your incredible words you share with us about your amazing little girl. Avery has truly touched us in such a special way.

claire.straight said...

What a beautifully written post. I know where Avery gets her strength!

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