Get the latest wellness updates on some of the local people and groups featured in 2021 | Entertainment / Life
Over the past year, we’ve shared dozens of stories about inspiring locals who have worked hard to improve their lives and help those around them. As we move closer to 2022, we take another look at some of the people who thrived or continued to push for positive change.
Son blossoms after mom donates kidney
In February, we wrote about Christel Malinski, Covington’s mother who donated a kidney to her then 7-year-old son John David, born with Down syndrome and severe kidney problems.
After John David developed an infection in his only functioning kidney last September, doctors said a transplant was needed. So Malinski, a dermatologist, donated hers. The operation took place at the end of November 2020, at the Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
Since then, John David has flourished. A recent one-year follow-up appointment showed her kidney function to be normal. The results of his lab work were also all normal.
“It’s always touching for me to even watch his labs, because all his life I’ve been used to seeing all those red numbers and warnings,” Malinski said recently. “And now seeing his normal labs is just surreal. I am delighted to watch them.
John David is more talkative, his appetite has increased and he has grown a lot. “He’s a whole different kid,” said Malinski.
As for his health?
“I feel great,” she said, noting that her lab work had also revealed normal kidney function. “I live a busy life like I was before.”
Spanish news service expands after $ 73,000 grant
In May, we caught up with Valeria Ali, a Loyola University student about to graduate with a bright future.
After teaming up with Rocio Tirado and Jambalaya News Louisiana to win a $ 73,865 Google Innovation Grant, they developed Al Día (The Daily), an SMS service that sends instant messages to Spanish-speaking readers about the latest news. local and national news, events and services. Recipients can send questions to the Jambalaya team and receive responses in real time.
In July, Ali and his team officially launched Al Día. Nearly 300 local residents are now receiving alerts, and Ali says this is just the start. She hopes sponsors will help cover the subscription costs so that more people can receive the news.
Ali had considered pursuing his MBA or a law degree and eventually becoming “a community leader”. Right now, she is focused on expanding her writing skills.
“I fell in love with storytelling because I saw how powerful a pen is…” she said. “You can inspire people. You could lead a change.
Ali manages public affairs for a New York-based agency and serves a scholarship with Lede New Orleans – a nonprofit organization that its website says trains “young black, brown, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ + young adults to tell. the stories of marginalized communities in and around New Orleans.
Girl blossoms after life-saving surgery
In June, we shared the story of a 6-year-old from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, who underwent open heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, thanks to an organization known as name of HeartGift.
HeartGift, which operates in many US cities, brings children from all over the world for free surgeries to correct life-threatening congenital heart defects. Visiting patients usually stay with a foster family.
Genesis (last names were not given to protect privacy) was the second patient to arrive in New Orleans after the start of the pandemic. A few days after her operation, she was running and eating better.
According to Stéphanie Berault, executive director of the Louisiana HeartGift Foundation, Genesis is now thriving in Bolivia.
Berault also said HeartGift has helped five children since then – most recently, Maria Isabelle from the Philippines. She turned one on November 16.
“It was a bit more complicated,” Berault said, explaining that the baby’s body was not circulating enough oxygenated blood. But since her operation, Maria Isabelle is “rosy and doing very well”.
HeartGift has accepted six patients for the next year, and one is under evaluation.
UHC student who won Guy Fieri scholarship learning biz
In July, Jamie Warrick, a student at Holy Cross University, recalled a moment she will never forget. Celebrity chef Guy Fieri told Warrick that she was the winner of a $ 25,000 scholarship.
Today, Warrick, a single mom pursuing a culinology degree from UHC, is on track to graduate in May and is doing an internship with Jambalaya Girl, a company that sells food products inspired by local cuisine. . It is directed by Kristen Preau, originally from New Orleans.
“Jambalaya Girl gave me a glimpse of what I want to do,” Warrick said. “(Preau) introduced me to people who have heard what I want to do and are happy to help me make it easier. I’m grateful that she even gave me the opportunity to learn from her and see how she operates and makes connections.
At the start of the pandemic, Warrick was taken on leave from her job in the food industry and struggling to pay her school fees.
With the stock market, “I had no debt this semester or the next,” she said. But she experienced other types of difficulties. Her mother suffered a stroke and her two grandmothers have died in recent months.
“This semester has been really tough, but knowing that I had this scholarship and that I didn’t have to worry (paying for my education) helped me,” Warrick said.
She hopes to someday start a business incubator that helps minorities and women develop food products and startups.
9-year-old brain cancer charity raises $ 1 million
In September, we spoke to readers about Walker Beery, the bubbly 9-year-old who battled pediatric brain cancer for two years. He started Kids Join the Fight, a charity that empowers children to help other children with cancer, through smart fundraising activities.
Although Walker passed away on September 5, his charity continues to thrive.
Kids in every state have held fundraisers, ranging from bake sales and babysitting services to animal shows and Halloween costume contests. Proceeds will be used to fund global pediatric cancer research and to provide local support and care services to pediatric cancer patients and their families.
In September, Walker’s father Taylor Beery said the fledgling charity planned to raise $ 1 million by the end of 2021. By the end of December, they had surpassed their target.
“Of the million dollars, more than half will have been raised through activities led by children, which is quite extraordinary,” Beery said. “We don’t have a lot of large adult donors and foundations. It is a popular movement of children applying their superpowers to fight pediatric cancer.
Beery said this was just the start of support for Walker’s mission.
“We have a lot of exciting plans for 2022,” he said, noting that Kids Join the Fight hopes to raise around $ 10 million over the next five years. Beery and his team will create a more sustainable calendar for young activists across the country, partner with larger organizations to provide additional fundraising opportunities and strengthen the infrastructure of the charity.
“Walker wanted no other child to go through what he went through. This is the mission he gave us, ”Beery said. “He found the ability to celebrate at times when many would not be able to find joy. And I’m sure in this time of celebration and joy he’s doing a kind of dance and saying, “A way out of this.” “