“We know Heartspring was an answer to prayer. We had to love her so much to do the best thing for her. She has a better quality of life because of Heartspring. Heartspring has special programs and special people. It made life easier for us knowing she was taken care of.” - Jim and Cheryl, Melissa’s parents
The first child of Jim and Cheryl, Melissa was born in November 1983. Immediately her father knew something was wrong. Melissa wasn’t breathing. Diligent work by the delivery room staff brought life back to Jim and Cheryl’s baby girl. Diagnosed with developmental delay, Jim and Cheryl hoped for the best, but knew that Melissa was in trouble. After visiting a myriad of specialists in the Chicago area, all who had no answers, Jim and Cheryl found a pediatrician specializing in disabilities. It was Dr. Mitchelli who first asked Jim and Cheryl if anyone had ever told them that Melissa had brain damage or seizure disorder. No one had.
On November 2, 1992, Heartspring became home for Melissa. Having to leave your child hundreds of miles away is not an easy task for any parent. “The hardest thing we had to do was bring her here and then go home,” said Jim recalling that day. Over the next 13 years Melissa became the face of Heartspring. Besides continuing her education in the classroom and participating in therapies, she was busy being featured in a capital campaign video when Heartspring was fundraising for a new campus and being photographed for brochures, fund raising mailings, and the Heartspring School Admissions display. Melissa truly was Heartspring. Melissa completed the Heartspring program in May 2005.
Today she is at home at House of Hope, an adult group home in Wichita, and spends her days working in a sheltered workshop for individuals with disabilities. She enjoys delivering Meals on Wheels three times a week and community outings with her housemates.