Audrey: A 'Danny Kid' and One of Siwanoy's Own

In June 2008, Audrey and her twin brother Andrew were born prematurely to an elementary School special education teacher Kim and her husband Andrew. At only 25 weeks' gestation, Audrey weighed a tiny one pound four ounces and faced a marathon 135-day hospital stay with medical complications that included a severe brain hemorrhage, a collapsed lung and perforations in her intestines.

 

Audrey came home from the hospital in October 2008, and only a month later suffered a secondary blockage in her intestines that caused her to stop eating. The latest in a long series of surgeries was required to remove almost a foot of intestine, followed by another two-week stay in intensive care.

Today, Audrey still suffers from low weight and difficulty eating, as well as muscle weakness and motor disability on the left side of her body. She requires highly specialized dietary supplements and therapies. While Kim was able to take a leave of absence from her job with the Pelham Schools for the first year of the twins' life, the financial burden of the twins' medical care required that she return to work part time in September 2009.

The Danny Fund, a Westchester-based non-profit volunteer organization that provides financial, emotional and advocacy support for the families of local children suffering from catastrophic illness or injury, adopted Audrey as a "Danny Kid" in the winter of 2008 at the suggestion of one of Kim's Siwanoy colleagues. In the spring of 2009 Siwanoy sponsored a read-a-thon that raised nearly $10,000 for Audrey's care, while The Danny Fund provided additional financial support to cover the loss of Kim's income while she was home with the children.

In the spring of 2010, the schooldedicated the proceeds from its bi-annual Family-to-Family fundraiser to the family. The event featured 137 students, parents, alumnae and staff performing music and dance from each decade the school's 100 years of continuous operation. It drew the largest crowd ever and raised $6,750.

"This year's beneficiary, the family, was chosen because we wanted to be able to give back to one of our own as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the school," said event organizer Paul. "Kim has been a part of the school community for nine years, and we couldn't be more proud to donate these funds in her family's honor.

"When we launched Family-to-Family five years ago, we were looking for a way our students could recognize a need somewhere in the world and step up and get something done about it - and maybe have a little fun in the bargain! This was a way for the kids to do the heavy lifting by giving up their free time to rehearse during lunch hour and after school, and see the fruits of their labors at a one-night-only performance to a capacity crowd."

"The Family-to-Family night was a. momentous night for our family," said Andrew. "We were moved to tears by the generosity of this community and of The Danny Fund. Siwanoy's talented families had us smiling nonstop and I remember we had to TEAR ourselves away when the kids got too tired! It was simply awesome.

"Audrey is progressing and is developing quite a personality," he continued. "She continues to work hard each day and is determined to walk and be independent. She is still a tiny little thing and has supplemental nutrition but she's beginning to eat some solids. We couldn't be happier."