Outside The Box: Part 1…Ann & Kay
Meet Ann and Kay…great friends who for over 20 years shared a love for dining, travel, laughter, giving and God…not in that order. But in March of 2020, their world changed forever. Kay was diagnosed with Bulbar Onset ALS. 1
ALS is a horrible disease, affecting the functioning of different parts of the body. 2 For those with the Bulbar variety, the ability to speak, eat and drink are often the first to go. Over time, their feet, legs, hands and arms stop working. Ultimately, they lose the ability to breathe.
Ann and Kay were devastated. No one survives ALS. But while the prognosis was hopeless, they refused to be. Instead they chose to love, encourage, and care for other women diagnosed with Bulbar Onset ALS. And that is exactly what they did!
For God to show the way, all we need to do is ask.
In spite of tears of grief and dashed dreams, God reminded Ann of the three core areas she and Kay value and share: women’s ministry, giving, and volunteering, especially with Operation Christmas Child. 3 With Kay’s approval, they started an outreach known as Blessing Love Box.
Each box is filled with items that Kay researches and uses herself to aid with drinking, communicating, sleeping, breathing and eating with a feeding tube. Each woman that receives a box has or is considering a feeding tube. Without it, choking to death, pneumonia and starvation are real possibilities.
Ann coordinates finding the box recipients on ALS Facebook support group sites, organizing all gift items, gathering volunteers, leading packing parties, and shipping the boxes.
Ask and receive, seek and find, knock and doors open.
In December, 2020, the first boxes were shipped. Since then, 8 more rounds have made their way to women in need of encouragement…the youngest so far at age 31 and oldest at 78. Everyone has been stunned. Not only have all the items met important needs, but they were freely given.
The recipients, as well as their families and friends, shared of being overcome by the kindness of strangers (not only Ann and Kay, but the more than 70 givers and volunteers who helped pack, wrap, and pray over the boxes). The greatest unseen gift is that these families are not alone.
I’m very grateful for what Ann, Kay and all the volunteers have done. I’m also excited about the decision of the Ciloa Board of Directors to support this effort. 4 It is truly amazing when God’s people come together to reach out to others.
Are you open to God showing you a way to help someone who has ALS or another devastating situation? Perhaps you will be inspired to take action. Please send us your story and pictures of living and loving others outside the box to Ciloa@ciloa.org.
Chuck Graham is Founder and Executive Director of Ciloa, an international ministry devoted to encouraging others and teaching them how to encourage one another. He is also an author and speaker. Chuck and his wife, Beverly, live in Lawrenceville, Georgia, USA. Learn more about Chuck and Ciloa at www.Ciloa.org.
Footnotes: (1) ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. (2) My Dad was diagnosed with ALS in 1984. (3) Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Its mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies as a means of reaching out to children in their own communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ. These simple gifts are shipped outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S. (4) Ann is now a member of our Board of Directors.
Pictures: Banner: Blessing Love Box Volunteers, photo by Ann. 1st: Ann and Kay, photo by Ann. 2nd: Blessing Love Box…A Loving Surprise, photo by Ann. 3rd: A Wrap, Pack and Prayer Party, photo by Ann.