When Melanie Davila suffered a stroke at the age of 32, her world turned upside down. Not only was she trying recover from the effects of the stroke, but she was also trying to combat the financial, emotional and physical struggles that often come with a major medical event.
Then, doctors discovered that Davila had a disease called MoyaMoya that restricts the blood vessels in the body and she would need immediate brain bypass surgery. So, the mother of two got on a plane and flew to California where doctors at Stanford University performed the procedure. Although the surgery saved her life, she was still not the woman she once was.
“At the time, I felt lost, afraid and angry that I couldn’t be the mother my children needed me to be.”
A few years later, she met Sheree Norton, who had also faced major medical expenses when her daughter Savannah was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)—a genetic disease that affects the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement.
Sadly, Savannah passed away just before her third birthday. After the death of the little girl, Davila and Norton decided that they would use their pain and loss for something good.
“We knew that God had not put both of our families through so much pain and heartache for no reason,” Davila said. “We needed a ‘purpose’ in life and we have found it through helping others with Caring4Katy.”
“Through the help of donations from individuals and corporations in our community, we are able to ease the daily stress brought on by the cost associated with their illnesses,” she said. “The donations that we receive allow us to provide assistance with services such as hospital parking and fuel expenses along with meals and lodging for caregivers if they are frequently traveling to the medical center.”
Davila said the organization can also help with minor household repairs if they will improve the patient’s well-being, but the most common form of assistance is helping out with home utilities, mortgage payments or rent.
“Ninety percent of the funds raised go directly to assist our Caring4Katy families with only 10 percent going towards the cost of operations,” she said.
But, Caring4Katy goes further than just helping pay bills. They support each family with prayers and online support groups to connect families who are going through similar battles.
“Once we assist these families, they become a part of our family,” she said. “We stay in contact with them and will host annual events on their behalf.”
One of those annual events is called “Christmas in July,” that will take place this year at No Label Brewing Company in Old Katy on July 25. It is a toy drive and barbecue cook-off all wrapped into one. Not only will the event help collect toys for Caring4Katy kids, but donations will also help to provide Christmas presents for children receiving treatment at Texas Children’s and MD Anderson.
“We will have a children’s area with Santa, fun games, bounce houses, face painting, live music, a silent auction and food vendors,” she said.
Davila said that if you feel led to get involved with the organization you can make a donation, become a volunteer or nominate a family to receive help. You can also sponsor a meal or join the Caring4Katy team on the third Monday of every month when they serve dinner to families at the Ballard House.
“If you have always wanted to help others, but haven’t really known where or who to reach out to, please consider joining our cause,” Davila said. “Together, we can make a difference in the heart of our community.”