By Dee Dee Olsen
I have led a most beautiful life. I have been graced by God with loving parents, devoted sisters, brothers-in-law, six incredible nieces and nephews, treasured friends and a husband who embodies strength, hard work and consideration. We brought three little people into this world. They breathed new dimensions of love and life and beauty into my existence. I’m sure many of you can say very much the same exact thing.
I have been over a great number of bumps and through quite a few valleys as well. I also went through a time in my life when I was afraid. I’m not describing the fear that comes from a bump in the night. I mean petrified to the point of being sick to your stomach. A fear so powerful you feel yourself losing proper perspective of the actual size of yourself. Fear that makes you feel tiny and alone and dark. The type of fear that only accompanies the horrors of possibly losing a child.
I’m extremely fortunate that that fear was very short lived. I did not lose my little baby girl. She was diagnosed as having Goltz syndrome, one of the ectodermal dysplasias. She was going to be ok. She was not going to die; but I didn’t know that in that moment. There was no greater scare in my entire life. Nothing that has ever even come remotely close. It was a darkness I will never forget.
There have been countless references and quotes even as far back as in the Bible that describe the contradictory yet essential nature between light and darkness. My darkest moments being those when I was afraid for our precious daughter, Jade. The light in this dark period came in the form of the NFED. I sobbed right through my very first Family Conference. I was so overwhelmed with joy and relief and swells of emotion.
I have met so many families at the NFED Family Conference. So many happy children. So many courageous mommies. So many strong dads. I met Miss Mary Kaye Richter, our fearless leader. And a dedicated, loving staff and advisory council that committed their lives to changing the lives of the families they served. I found it hard to believe that such an organization existed. An entire community! In fact, another family.
I volunteer my time and I raise funds because I want to be part of that light. I want to share that goodness with others. Whether I serve as a Family Liaison for the NFED, or host an event to raise funds or simply sit behind a desk at family conference and sell tee shirts. I want to do my part.
I want to try and pay back the good that was given to me in my darkest hour. If you have ever been touched by the NFED, I implore you to pay it forward. To do unto others what has been done for you. In any way big or small. Pay it forward. Share the light.
Editor’s Note: Would you like to volunteer with the NFED? Email Lea Richardson, NFED manager, community engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 618-566-6871. You can also learn more about volunteering on our website .
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