Monday, April 27, 2009

Yes, Emily, Dreams Do Come True!

Click to Mix and Solve

Powerful, tear-jerking story from our local paper, the Galax Gazette, following. 

Grab your Kleenex and hankies and meet Agape's friend, Emily Ogle.

Mother's Wish Comes True


All 18-year-old Emily Ogle can think about is making her princess fairy tale come true for her and mom Debbie Ogle, who is battling Stage 4 breast cancer. 

Emily has it all planned out, as she fantasizes about dressing up in an ball gown and riding with her date through town in a horse-drawn carriage on the way to prom on Saturday.

“I wanted to be like Cinderella,” said Emily, a junior at Galax High School. “It's just a wonderful time of life.” 

And Twin County United Way, along with community donors, has coordinated that special evening just for Emily. 

Debbie is ecstatic about seeing her daughter's dream come true. “I just want her to be as happy as she can,” Debbie said of Emily, who has Down Syndrome. “She loves socializing and being happy, and I want that for her.” 

Debbie's relative, who works at Bogeys Restaurant in Galax, knew of their wish and passed it on to Celeste Amburn, director of Twin County United Way. Although TCUW is known for funding agencies in the community, Amburn said she was so touched by this story that she wanted to become the fairy godmother to grant their wish. “We saw that it was a need,” said Amburn. “And it was just something we wanted to make come true.”

Though Debbie's illness made her unable to go shopping with Emily for the prom dress, they found the perfect one online: a spaghetti strap, long black gown that gathers at the waist with a flowing pleated skirt. Emily's sister took her shoe shopping. 

On the Special Olympics basketball team in Carroll County, Emily has asked teammate, Jordan Stevens, a 10th grader at Carroll County High School, to be her date. Debbie said Emily is just a little shy about talking to him now, but is looking forward to slow dancing with him, she said with a big smile. “Jordan's handsome, with pretty hair and teeth,” Emily said, with a laugh.

After a dinner, provided by Bogeys in Galax, the horse-drawn carriage will meet Emily and her date on Main Street and ride right up to the door of GHS. 

The horse-drawn carriage, which can sometimes cost as much as $1,000 per ride, is being donated by Marlon Staples. Galax Florist has provided the boutonniere for the carriage driver and the bows for the carriage. Even the Galax Police Department has contributed a police escort during the ride up to the high school, and Debbie will be riding close by. “I'm just so excited and thankful for their contributions,” said Debbie. “We're fortunate to live in a community where people can help each other." 

“I just want her to grow up and be happy, and be a person who contributes to society.”

When Debbie, a 1976 GHS graduate and former bank teller at BB&T, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, she was worried about how independent Emily would be. But then, Emily was only 9 years old. Over the past decade, Debbie has learned to relax. “Emily has come a long way since then and helps take care of me sometimes and keeps her room tidy,” she said. Emily has even become an exceptional cook, making homemade burgers, breadsticks and apple dumplings. 

Family friend, Lorraine Cox, said Emily is so outgoing and has never met an enemy. In fact, Emily describes herself as “fabulous.” Emily often cranks up the music in her room and listens to Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana, enjoys keyboarding class, water aerobics, horseback riding and basketball. A huge fan of Dr. Suess books and “Harry Potter,” Emily dreams of becoming a librarian after she graduates from high school. 

Debbie said the cancer is now in her liver, but she is trying a new type of chemotherapy to get rid of the tumors. “I just want to live as long as possible and enjoy ourselves,” said Debbie, who describes her relationship with Emily as “very close.” When Debbie is feeling up to it, she and Emily dine out on the weekends, go shopping and to the movies and attend church at Blue Ridge Fellowship. 

“I feel like I wouldn't be here now, if it wasn't for the Lord,” Debbie said. “It's been almost 10 years for me and some others haven't been that fortunate.”

So Agape and I joined a large crowd of friends and well-wishers to see Emily off in the carriage last Saturday night. It truly was a night of magic and dreams. Emily was absolutely radiant. Jordan was as handsome as ever with his "pretty hair and teeth," and remarkably well-composed for being the unwitting center of attention. The love, joy, and tenderness sparkling in her mother's eyes thrilled our hearts.

My personal thanks goes out to April Wright of the Gazette for her compassionate, sensitive reporting (She also wrote the wonderful story about my JoyBell Ringers last summer) and to the business people in our fair city who stepped forward to make Debbie's dream for her daughter come true.

Emily and Jordan arriving for the carriage ride
Some of the many well-wishers gathered to see her off
A group hug from her Special Olympics team mates
There she is! A princess on her way to the ball
One more hug for the road

Mr. Staples leads Kate up the steep hill to Galax High School

A sunset ride worthy of a fairy tale

Another cheering crowd of paparazzi greets them at the school

Pure, unbridled joy!

Emily and her mom share one more hug before Emily makes her way inside for the  dreamed of night to begin.


Mom2*2gr8kids said...

Love in action!
So happy for Emily. A day she will never forget!
Thanks for sharing your photos.
Will any of them be in the paper...I hope! :)

Amy Renzulli said...

Oh, that IS a tearjerker! What a sweet, heartwarming story. I wouldn't have known from the pictures that you were taking them with a sprained ankle.

C McPherson said...

The follow up story is on the front page of today's Gazette. (but not my photos, they are April's) Here is a link:

Yes, with a sprained ankle!! They sprinted down Main Street, and I couldn't keep up with them there, but the horse is 28 years old and had to be led up the high school hill, so I was able to catch up with them there.

Starla Murrell said...

Charlotte, you are a jewel!!, and that story makes me miss Galax so much.