Despite Hardships Family Remains Hopeful

Through my mom and her generous ways, I have learned that it’s better to give than to receive.  This is what I am hoping to pass on to Sierra. No matter what our situation, there’s always someone that is struggling more.  It’s important to think of others and try to help as much as we can.

Dave made a smart choice for his family when he set up a college savings plan for Sierra. This plan had a life insurance benefit that saved us from having to move out of our home…the only home Sierra knows.  I am so grateful that we are able to continue living in our home. I decided then that I wanted to help others as well and “paying it forward” had actually become part of my healing process.

This is my first post in a new category called “Helping Others”.  I decided to add this to my blog because Dave helped so many people while he was around and I would like to continue his goodwill and try to help others who are dealing with a loss and/or those in need.


We have all been dealing with financial difficulties in the last several years.  I don’t know of anyone that has not been affected by the recession.  However, there are people who have been struggling more than others and this is a story that I need to tell about a family that Sierra and I have been helping since 2007.

Meet the Askey Family from Pennsylvania.

Photo of Kim and Teddy

Kim and Teddy and their dog Weewee (Tom taking pic)

I met Kim, Tom, and Teddy through a website where individuals could borrow from or lend money to other individuals. I was the group leader of a lending group that I started called, Heaven Cent.  Kim contacted me to help her with a listing she had created for a wheelchair ramp for their son Teddy who has Cerebral Palsy.  With help from a local Community Action group and a re-listing under my group, they were able to build the wheelchair ramp. However, their story of struggle continues…….

Family Home with Wheelchair Ramp

Family home before and with Teddy's wheelchair ramp

On the morning of December 27, 2011, I woke up and as I do every morning, I reached for my phone and checked my emails.  There was one from Kim.

In her email Kim explained that she went to Teddy’s room to get him up and ready for the day and she noticed that his bed was wet.  Initially she thought that he had wet the bed, but then learned that his adult diaper was actually dry. So why was Teddy soaked from head to toe?!  She looked up in horror as she learned their ceiling had been leaking all night right above Teddy’s bed and onto him.  Teddy cannot speak due to his medical condition and was not able to let his parents know what was happening throughout the night. This was just the latest in a series of unfortunate events for the family.

Photo of Kim and Tom

Kim and Tom

Kim and I have been corresponding via email and phone since June 2007.  This is a family that I chose to help beyond the lending website as their story is one of incredible struggle.

Tom had to take an early retirement in April 2001 after a heart attack.  It was then that his doctor told him that he also had diabetes and degenerative arthritis.  After 30 years with the same company, his early retirement caused his pension to be cut by 80%.  In addition, we all know what happens with social security when early retirement is taken…benefits are reduced there as well.

Kim is not in the best of health, but doing her best to take care of her family.  She has a condition called Hammer Toe ( and has had several unsuccessful surgeries and continues to suffer from the deformity. She suffers from migraines that are so bad that she has ended up in the emergency room.  Kim also has CMT, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological disorder she explained causes her hands to go numb. (More about it here:  She tries her best to hide the scars from the “cage” inserted in the back of her neck for her degenerative disc disease. In addition, she just learned she has osteoarthritis in her back. Her doctor has ordered her to refrain from heavy lifting, but part of caring for Teddy includes lifting him in and out of his wheelchair every day. Lifting Teddy is something Kim says she will continue to do, until she can physically no longer do it.

And then there’s Teddy.

Teddy is 25 years old and was not expected to live this long. He has been in a wheelchair his whole life. A mild cold for him usually leads to pneumonia.  He wears adult diapers  and requires 24 hour care. He can’t speak. He can’t walk. However he is able to feel when his mother is dealing with unbearable stress and is able to erase at least some of through his smile.  My written words cannot come close to conveying the love and connection between Kim and her son. Therefore, we have put together an audio recording of Kim expressing her feelings about Teddy in her own words:

On December 22 of this year, three days before Christmas, I got an email from Kim to say that they went to a food pantry who was helping families with food for Christmas dinner.  They had received some assistance for food in the past, however, were turned down this time because they were just over the income limit, which is very low. In addition Tom had been off his diabetes medication for four days because they weren’t able to afford it and he had started feeling the effects of being off the meds. This is just the recent part of their hardship…

There is much to tell about this family and their difficulties over the years, but here are some of the things that have happened in the past few years.

In April 2010, both their refrigerator and washer broke down….on the same day.  They could only afford a used fridge and washer.  A year later, the used fridge they bought broke down and all the food spoiled.  Then the washer broke down and needed new parts.

They have one car and have been dealing with car issues for years and that continues.

Photo of Teddy and Jake

Photo Kim sent of Teddy w/ Jake who died this year from cancer

Two of their dogs died this past year.  One was a dog that Kim rescued from the animal shelter in 2005.  He was going to be put to sleep as no one was interested in adopting him.  Kim took him home and saved him. They actually changed his name to Jake, but his original name was actually the same as their son, Teddy.  Jake died in May of this year from a tumor on his spine.  Bridgette died four months later from a tumor on her spleen.

Kim does not have health coverage and their health conditions are only getting worse. Despite her medical issues Kim has considered getting a part time job, but was told her earned income would not only reduce the Social Security disability benefits they receive for Teddy, but also that Teddy would lose his Medicare benefits.  What a great system huh?!

They live in Pennsylvania where winters can be very harsh with extremely cold temperatures. The family can barely afford heating costs.

Their ceiling is now leaking in five different places in their home and they are hoping and praying that the roof won’t cave in on them one day due to ice build up.

This is a family that lives a very simple life.  A family that doesn’t want to ask for more than they need if even that much. A family who continues to endure hardships and despite their situation has and will continue to Pay it Forward by helping others, both animals and people.

This family is hesitant to ask for help, so I’m asking for them. I’ve asked the family to set up a donation account and Kim handled it, but did not want to ask for too much, so the amount they posted doesn’t really cover even close to what they need (especially with roof repair, a car, appliances, etc.).  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Here is the link:

Thanks for taking the time to read about Kim, Tom and Teddy and for any help in sharing their story thru email, thru Facebook, Twitter and other any means.  Also feel free to leave a comment or a note for them below or you may also send an an email to:


14 Responses to Despite Hardships Family Remains Hopeful

  1. Thank you Lena for sharing….this is so heartbreaking and sad….also alot of inspiration. I have copy and saved link and will see alot of my friends and share this. I will also use this story as my project for Christmas 2012 to help this family and others. May god continue to bless you and Sierra abundantly.


    • Terri, that would be so awesome! I know Kim, Tom and Teddy will be so grateful. Thank you so much!!! Love and Aloha from Sierra and me xoxo

  2. You made me cry over lunch! I am sharing this with my FB and twitter.. and my office.. Love it when I hear that I know people like you Lena.. your heart is so big!

    • Hi Alana! Sorry about making you cry 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing…I believe it was your FB post that got Lori I’s attention and she posted a very generous donation! So nice of her and so nice of you to share the story! Thank you!!!

    • Hi there! Thanks for your comment! Sharing and helping others is a great feeling…I really wish I could do more! It’s definitely something I will always do and want my daughter to do too! 🙂

  3. Lena, this story is like a Guinness book of bad luck! I hope this family is now finding some relief as you and Sierra hold out a vision of easier days for them. I am also imagining this for them and hope their tide turns soon!

    • Thanks Roxanne! Still trying to get them some attention…and there are so many families like them struggling. Hoping for the best for them…they deserve it….

  4. Lena! I am so struck by admiration for you. I read a little of the loss of your sweetheart and my heart just aches for you, and yet you turn around and try to help others who are suffering more. I’m in awe and motivated to do better and give more of myself. I will definitely help spread the word. America should be able, even in a recession to absorb the needs of a family like this. Seriously. If we all gave a little it becomes a lot. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi Ihilani! Thanks for spreading the word about the Askey Family. And thanks for your note…I’m glad to be able to write about my experiences and happy to share and hope it helps others….

      Oh yeah….have a pupuka day! 🙂

  5. I read this a couple times and made me cry. Thank you Lena for sharing their story; and thank you for helping them. I am praying for this family and will try to financially help too. But for now I will share this post around hoping many people will help.

    • Liza! Thanks for your note and sharing the story! Much appreciated! Also thanks for adding me to the Maui Bloggers Network! I LOVE that I have this blog…but I get so busy with everything else that I tend to slack on posting. MBN and the members give me the motivation and inspiration I need to post! And I really do need to post because this blog is sooooo good for me and Sierra. I also hope that it will be helpful to others as well. Thanks again Liza!

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