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In Loving Memory: Cammie (2001 - 2023)

Updated: Nov 16, 2023



Scroll down for a letter from Mike Wilson, CEO & Co-Founder of myLIFEspeaks about Cammie's life and impact.


We are devastated to share that Cammie passed away unexpectedly on the morning of Sunday, October 29th, 2023. We are in shock and heartbroken.

She was having some trouble eating but otherwise seemed fine. Having Cerebral Palsy, a feeding tube, and other medical complications, she has always had very fragile health. There was nothing that indicated the need for serious concern beyond other complications we’ve faced or mild illnesses.


We took her to the hospital last Monday to check her feeding tube, and she was cleared. She came back home and was spitting food back up, so we took her back to the hospital on Friday. The doctor whom we trust ran some tests and didn’t see anything indicating something was wrong. He thought maybe, if anything, she could potentially have had a mild virus. She went home and was doing better. Then, on Sunday morning, Gran (Grandma) came to check on her and noticed it seemed she was having trouble breathing. She sent someone to get one of the directors, and she waited by Cammie’s side. When the director arrived, Cammie had passed.


Please be praying for her family, siblings, and our myLIFEspeaks community during this time of grief. Cammie exuded joy every day of her LIFE and was a key vessel by which God changed the hearts and minds of many in our village community to see the value, dignity, and worth of people with special needs. Cammie, although she couldn’t communicate verbally, was brilliant and would often blow people’s small expectations of her out of the water with all she understood and was capable of.

Cammie showed us the joy that we can have in Jesus despite the sufferings we will face on this earth. She will be so missed.

We wanted to share something our Director of Family Empowerment in Haiti and myLIFEspeaks’ social worker, Benjamin Saint Jean, shared with our Haiti staff this morning that gave perspective and reminded us of eternal things. Benjamin himself has a brother with special needs and provides a profound perspective.


“We need to look at each day - for anyone, but especially people with special needs - as another day of a gift. We need to love them unconditionally every day that we get that gift. And when that day is over and God has called that person home, we need to be able to remember the great memories of that person because God granted us the gift to be a part of their life. I know as hard as it is for us to lose her, we've got to rejoice in the time that we had with her.”


As sad as we are that Cammie is no longer here with us, we can rejoice in the moments we were blessed to have with her. We also have hope and consolation in that she is no longer in pain, suffering, or limited by frail health. She can dance, run, sing, and worship in the presence of Jesus. We love you, Cammie.


 

LETTER FROM MIKE WILSON, CEO & CO-FOUNDER OF MYLIFESPEAKS ABOUT CAMMIE


Kids Like Cammie: By Mike Wilson


When Cammie first came to myLIFEspeaks, we instantly knew we had someone special in our midst. Her bright smile seemed to warm the soul of everyone she interacted with.


Not long after Cammie found a family at myLIFEspeaks, she began school at LIFE Academy. The young lady who had started the special education classroom, Izzy, knew that she had the opportunity to teach a very special little girl.



Each day in the special education classroom included a walk around the village. The small classroom of four students and a teacher made their way through the village each day. Often, these students were met with laughs, taunts, and jeers from people in the village. Most days, they were teased because of their disability and their “worthlessness.”


One day, Izzy, the teacher, had enough. She rolled Cammie in her chair right up to the men who were laughing and calling Cammie names. She showed the men Cammie’s ability to follow directions in Haitian Creole. They laughed because they didn’t see that as special at all. Then, Izzy gave her directions in French, which Cammie followed exactly. Some of the men stopped laughing because they didn’t understand French.


Cammie with Izzy, her first teacher.

Then, Izzy gave Cammie more instructions in English. The men looked puzzled because none of them understood English. Izzy then gently, but firmly, helped the men understand that this young lady not only heard but also understood three languages. She challenged them to not judge someone because they are different. She also explained that Cammie’s mind was exceptionally sharp even though her body faced enormous difficulties in doing even the most simple tasks.


That moment changed the hearts and minds of many people in our small community. It also showed Cammie that someone cared deeply about her and stood up for her in front of others. It was Proverbs 31:8 being lived out (Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.)


Over time, Cammie went from being seen as ‘that crippled girl in the wheelchair’ to being seen as the intelligent and loving young woman who just happened to have a body that didn't work correctly. Even though people didn’t understand all of the intricacies associated with a life with cerebral palsy, they knew that Cammie was special.



Her family went out of the way to make sure she had what she needed and that Cammie knew each day that she was loved and cared for. She was welcomed into circles where she was once forbidden to enter. The local church brought her in and made a place for her wheelchair to park while her family went to church. In short, Cammie’s life changed the community by simply having someone advocate for her.


All over the world, kids like Cammie face obstacles and ridicule from their local communities. Especially in underdeveloped countries, the ridicule and prejudice aren’t hidden because it’s simply not understood. These actions though are not limited to Haiti or even third world countries. Even in places that champion their disability-friendly status, the stares and whispers go unnoticed by many, but not all. The individuals with disabilities and their families see them and hear them.



People who are curious don’t know how to express their curiosity about disabilities and individuals, so they simply stay at a distance. We teach this from childhood in the developing world. We discourage children from staring and asking questions. We often apologize for children’s curiosity and inappropriate questions but in doing so, we take the easy way out by removing ourselves from the lives of those we don’t understand.


What if Cammie’s life helped change an entire community for the better? What if we aren’t getting to know the people that God has placed in our path because we are afraid that we might say the wrong thing or that we might offend someone? Which is better, to risk making someone feel accepted or making sure they know we love them so much we exclude them from everything?


We will never stop speaking up for kids like Cammie. Our lives have been forever impacted and changed because of people with special needs like her. In fact, it is often these very people who have the greatest, lasting impact on communities. Not because of what they do, but because of who they are.


We love you, Cammie.



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