I've written Oprah:
Dear Oprah Winfrey Grand Dame of Dreams and President of Promising Possibilities,
I want to walk again
On November 14, 2005 at 302 am I fell down and could not get up. After many painful tests, I was diagnosed with idiopathic transverse myelitis which means that something they can’t pinpoint has disrupted my spinal cord, nerve function and the signals from my brain don’t reach my legs.
I am single, African American and 53. I had just returned to work after having retired because my investments lost their value; the man I loved and planned to live with, left, and the small town I lived in shrank as the company closed factories and laid off workers. I lost the possible audiences for my workshops and buyers for my art and jewelry.
The three galleries I had work in, closed. My new job as director of marketing and development for a small nonprofit was just two months old when I was stricken. My prognosis is: they don’t know. I am determined to recover. Until then I need help.
I would like to make my house accessible. I reside in a concrete box in Rochester, a barely wheelchair accessible apartment nearly two hours away from my house in Corning, NY. My age makes me ineligible for the senior benefits and supports but I am no longer young and have no familial resources. I emptied my savings and cashed in investments to pay my mortgage and bills while I was in the hospital and then in the nursing home…. I thought I had planned well—I have 3 degrees and acquired some skill in creating things—my first solo show was in Chicago in 2001. I’ve won the National Endowment for the Arts and other awards for my poetry. But I’ve had a series of bad breaks. Nearly everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. Can you help connect me with those who could retrofit my home, so I could return to it?
Thanks for listening.
Akua Lezli Hope