Friday, July 4, 2008

A story with a raffle at the end

My Uncle Jan is married to my mom's sister Shirley. He is a surgeon and my aunt is a surgical nurse. They worked together for years, had a practice in Radford, VA, and when I was growing up, they lived in a lovely house on the lake. Their house was where we went for huge family Thanksgivings and cookouts. Between them, Shirley and Jan have seven kids and there was always something doing over there.

When my sister Carrie and I were kids Shirley and Jan would put together medical kits for us with stuff like rubber gloves (they make great water balloons), tongue depressors and surgical masks. My sister went through a phase where she thought she wanted to be a doctor and Jan took her with him on rounds. In other words, they were everything you could ask for in an Aunt and Uncle.

Jan and Shirley are deeply religious and about 15 years ago they started going on medical missions to war zones and third world countries. At first they would go for a couple of weeks at a  time, allowing the staff surgeon and nurse to take a vacation. But they fell in love with the work and soon there trips stretched for several months.

Before Jan and Shirley started taking these trips I didn't realize that medical missionaries are responsible for paying for the majority of their own expense, including travel to and from their posting. It's mad expensive but they were so dedicated to their work that Jan and Shirley sold their home and moved into much smaller quarters so they could retire and continue to bring medical care to people who wouldn't otherwise receive it.

Together they have traveled to Sudan, Afghanistan, Nepal and all over Africa. I have heard some of their stories and they are pretty harrowing. The have been caught in the middle of fire fights and bombings on a couple of occasions. I remember hearing that they once did surgery on a man who had stepped on a land mine and walked ten miles holding his intestines in to get to their hospital. 

In some countries they visited, my Aunt wasn't allowed to do much more than sterilize the surgical tools because she is a woman. I know these trips were very hard on Shirley because she always left feeling like they didn't do enough, could have done more.

Here is a picture of my Aunt and Uncle taken earlier this year.

In addition to his medical missionary work, my Uncle Jan is one of those guys who's good at everything he does. He recently started woodworking, making beautiful bowls and rolling pins. He sings in his church choir, ran a Sunday school class, and took it upon himself to trim the dead branches in the trees at his church when he noticed they needed it.

That's what he was doing last month when he fell 15 feet out of the tree and broke his neck and spine. It took a while for someone to find him laying there and somehow he managed to remain conscious until the ambulance arrived so he could tell the EMTs which vertebrae he had crushed! 

My Uncle Jan, Dr. Levy as he is known to his patients, is now partially paralyzed. He has spent the last month at the Shepherd Center, a catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta , where he is receiving rehab and learning how to perform life's most basic functions all over again. Although he is lucky he has regained a tiny amount of movement in his left hand- lucky to be alive for that matter- he will most likely spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair and his days performing surgery are most definitely behind him.

My Aunt Shirley has been by his side throughout this ordeal and is learning how to care for Jan, how to move him from his wheelchair to the bed without injuring herself, stuff like that. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Because this couple that have done so much for so many people are going to need help. As I said, they sold their house years ago and used the profits to fund their medical missionary trips.  Luckily they had good medical insurance, but the out-of-pocket expenses will quickly wipe out their retirement savings. 

I'd like to try to raise some money to help purchase the wheelchair Jan will need when he returns home to Virginia next month. So I am raffling off my entire stash of yarn (that didn't come from my sheep and goats) along with some other swell prizes.

What's in the stash? Lots and lots of good stuff.

Here are some examples:
16 skeins of Frog Tree Alpaca in 4 colors
7 skeins Manos del Uruguay in goldenrod
25 skeins of mohair in three colorways
15 skeins of Plymouth baby alpaca
8 skeins Tahki Yarns 100% Merino Baby Print in two colors 
and a whole lot more!

Each ticket is $10 and you can buy as many raffle tickets as you want. Grand prize it my entire yarn stash. Other prizes include: Six skeins of Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm yarn in the colorway of your choice:

My dear friend Maggie has generously donated two skeins of her amazing Little Grey Cat handspun yarn to the prize list.



Susan has given us an amazing prize! Five of her absolutely beautiful patterns: 
Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl, Spring Things Shawl, Elysian Mitts, Mountain Stream Scarf, and Lily of the Valley Smoke Ring. Any one of these patterns would be a treasure to knit up. Some lucky raffle winner will be getting all five patterns as PDFs.

Shareholder Sue Matthews is donating one of her babyslings (winner's choice of fabric) as a prize and a handmade Waldorf style doll.
The photo below is the actual doll that she made just for the raffle. Her name is Lucie.

Trish from Frog Tree Yarns just called me to donate two bags (10 skeins each) of yarn to the raffle! Frog Tree make some beautiful alpaca yarns. I know their beautiful because you will find many of them in my own stash (see photos above). Frog Tree is a nonprofit and they do some amazing work. It turns out that Trish's son and daughter-in-law are missionaries and she really connected with Jan's story. I will post pics as soon as the yarn comes.

Sara Wilson is an amazing spinner with a shop on esty called theytoldmesew. Sara is donating your choice of either one skein of her handspun yarn or two hand-dyed rovings or two hand-dyed skeins of sock yarn from her shop. Postage is included on all three. I took a quick peek at her shop and was so taken with her beautiful yarns that I ordered some for myself.

astrahlgems has donated three set of her stitch markers- a silver set, a gold set and a bronze set. 

My friend Colleen, the amazing dyer behind Spiffy Knits, has donated a skein of her hand-dyed yarn as a prize. The winner can choose a skein of sock yarn, some spinning, or a skein of worsted. Check them out here and here. Colleen has been dyeing yarn for MVFF and everyone loves it.

Painty from The Unique Sheep is donating a her Todos Scarf Kit in Sangria. 

Blog reader Nelly Ortiz has donated a set of her handmade stitch markers.

Carla, thispiggyknits on rav, emailed me to tell me she is making a prayer shawl for my Aunt Shirley. I can't even begin to say thank you for a such a heart-felt gift.

Shareholder Janelle G. has donated a "flat feet" in the pink/orange/yellow colorway and a skein of alpaca sock yarn in a rainbow colorway.

RubyShaphire yarns has donated the winners choice of FOUR (!) skeins of their lovely handpainted yarns as a prize. How on earth anyone is going to choose just four is a mystery to me.

Kay Meadors, Naturalstateknit on rav, has made a donation to add to the grand prize stash. Those of you on ravelry can see her donation here. It includes:
3 skeins of hand painted lace weight mohair yarn, approx. 1200 yards
950 yards of hand painted lace weight 100purewool
420 yards of hand painted sock weight yarn
2 small skeins of hand painted sock weight wool for baby socks.
My SockSack sock knitting tote and 2 sets of double pointed needles size 2; one set is 8” and the other is 5” for making baby socks.
And 2 of Kay's patterns: Baby socks from the toe up and Rectangular Leaf Shawl.

Megan, a.k.a notmartha, has donated one of her handmade, portable DPN cases, winner's choice of fabric. These are so amazingly cool! I'll be ordering one for myself as soon as the raffle winner picks which one they want. I have blogged before about the fact that I start every morning with and I am tickled pink to have a prize donated by Megan.

My mom, Carol Gibbs, has donate one share in the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm Spring 2009 Yarn CSA. (Yes. She actually went on etsy and bought a share. Because she is just that supportive of her daughter's business. I might have the best mom in the whole world.)  The winner can choose to take their share in yarn, roving or raw fleece.

Crystal from baby-hugs has donated a set of knitting looms as a prize.

Thatotherredhead has donated a beautiful handmade shaw pin.
Marcey from Babydoll Acres has donated a great prize- 11 ozs of her super-fine babydoll southdown roving (undyed) and two 12oz honey bears filled with honey from their own bee hives.

Nannyb has donated two stunning skeins of yarn for prizes: Wollmeise in Sultan and Sundara in Basil over Buttercup.

Sue Roth has donated her own mini-stash as a prize.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I was having a lot of anxiety about giving up my entire stash but I'm over it. The generosity of the fiber community, much of it from people who are complete strangers to me, has lead me to a whole bunch of amazing new yarn suppliers. I don't think it's going to take long to refill the sea captain's chest that houses my current stash when it departs.

MVFF hats and t-shirts (two of each will be given away), and a few surprises. All the prizes are spectacular and valued at way more than $10. 

Best of all, you can feel good about the fact that you are helping someone who really needs it and who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Literally.

To enter raffle, just click the Donate button below. You can enter as many times as you like.

I can't seem to get the second Paypal button to work. To enter the raffle more than once you can either click on the Donate button multiple times or send me your donation via Paypal in $10 increments to susanlgibbs at hotmail dot com and put Jan Levy Wheelchair Fund in the memo. Thanks so much.

If you'd like to donate any raffle prizes to help make this fundraiser a success I'd be super-grateful. Just shoot me an email at susangibbs1 at mac dot com.

The drawing will be held on Sunday, July 13th at 6:00 p.m. 
If you'd like to send some words of encouragement to my Uncle Jan and Aunt Shirley please leave a comment on this post. I will make sure they get them all.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this Susan, it will mean so much to Shirley and Jan!

Linda D said...

God bless them both.

KarenS said...

My best wishes go to your aunt and uncle.

--Deb said...

Raffle-schmaffle. I'll donate just because it's the right thing to do!! They sound like such fabulous people... I'll spread the word on my blog, too. We knitters have to stick together!

Anonymous said...

Jan and Shirley,

Susan seems to have inherited your family's generosity and concern for others, obviously caring about her family. You will be in our prayers as Jan continues to heal. Hope the raffle raises a lot of money to help with expenses.


Anonymous said...

Susan, What a wonderful thing to do for your Aunt and Uncle. My pleasure to donate. Your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. Their story of giving, belief, and strength are inspirational.

From Ravelry - MnMgirl

PolarBearCreations said...

this is a wonderful idea to raise money for your aunt and uncle.
This world needs more people like them!
I hope we are able to help them out this way!
Thank you for sharing their story with us!

Rebecca Gordon said...

Please give my greetings to your aunt and uncle. I've done a little bit of the war zone thing, and I know the kind of guts it takes! They sound like wonderful folks. It rains on the just and the unjust alike, and this just stinks!

Anonymous said...

Hope this story has a happy ending. My check is in the mail.


yarnprincess said...

Dear Susan,

Please send all of my best wishes for your Aunt and Uncle. I wish them a full and speedy recovery. They are truly blessed to have a niece like you who is undertaking this marvelous fundraiser for such a good cause.

Michele (theyarnprincess on ravelry)

Maggie said...

Strength and peace to both of them.

Susan, I'm emailing you about some handspun yarn for the raffle!

Anonymous said...

My e-cheque donation (silly international e-cheques!) won't actually clear until after the drawing but I am still happy to donate to what sounds like some pretty amazing people who are due some of that good karma they've been collecting. May his recovery be beyond his wildest expectations.

Jean said...

Small world! I went to high school (Radfor High School class of 1973) and college (Radford College class of 1976) in Radford. (I'm now in Charlottesville, so let me know if you're ever in the neighborhood.) I seem to recall a Dr. Levy in Radford, but memory could be failing me (I have senior blonde moments). I am off to use the Donate button now, probably more than once.

Marion K. said...

I hope this raises a lot of money for them. The world needs more people like them. They are in my thoughts and prayers.

Nina said...

Good luck to your fund raising efforts. You've got my donation. Best wishes to your Aunt & Uncle.

XenaBob on Ravelry

Barbra said...

It is an honor to donate for this cause. Winning the yarn would be wonderful but not as great as knowing your uncle is going to be okay. I will follow this story and keep them in my thoughts.Best wishes to you all.

donna said...

May this raffle be successful beyond your wildest imaginings. May your aunt and uncle remain as they have always been-surrounded and protected by the love of God.

she knits said...

May God bless and keep your uncle and aunt and you safely in his loving care.
A speedy and enduring recovery and peace of no finiancial stress during what is already an incredibly difficult time. We have been through major crisis involving our daughter fighting cancer and know how hard it is to see someone you love so dearly in pain and worried about whats coming next, I pray you all get through this together. The real life financial troubles just add another layer of burden which is so not needed, I truly hope you can get enough that you need.
Off to donate now, Mel

Anonymous said...

May God's healing love cover your Uncle and lift up your Aunt as they go through his recovery.

woolies said...

Sending prayers from the desert to your aunt and uncle.
I'm going to post about this on my blog.

Jackie said...

Good luck with the fundraising. I only wish that I could donate more. My thoughts are with your uncle and family.

Melisa said...

Good luck with the raffle

LiquidLace said...

I hope your uncle & aunt are able to tell how very much their lives and work mean, not only to those they've helped but also to people they've never met!

With all best wishes,

Annette said...

I hope the raffle is a big success!

shosh15 said...

I hope that the raffle is a huge success. My thoughts are with your family right now. I'm truly sorry for the tragedy, but I'm glad that we can all reach out to your aunt and uncle and show them in a small way how much we appreciate what they have done in this world.


kasiaiscarly said...

Your uncle sounds like a pretty fantastic man. I was happy to donate as much as I could right now. If I'm lucky enough to win, I plan to try to do something similar - raffle off the portions I know I won't use anytime soon and donate the proceeds!

knitcrazybooknut said...

My best wishes to your aunt and uncle, and thanks to you for doing such an amazing thing for them. Your hard work will be so appreciated. Thanks also for allowing me to help in a small way! Take care of yourself in this difficult time.

knitcrazybooknut on ravelry and gmail

smug sheep said...

Your aunt and uncle sound like amazing people. I hope and pray your uncle makes as much of a recovery as humanly possible, and that your aunt gets all the help and comfort she needs.
Good luck with the fundraising.

Liss said...

Dear Shirley and Jan,
May peace and warmth surround you as you meet life's latest challenge.

Sam said...

Dear Jan, I hope your life is easier from now on.

Dear Shirley, I hope he realises how lucky he is to have an angel like you with him!

I'm in the UK, if I win, I will cover postage costs.

My thoughts are with you both and I hope you get enough here to make a difference.

Blessed Be

Ravelry ID: Puddytat purr

Norma said...

I am hapy to support the good work that has been done and the work that will continue because of your relatives' inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Can't begin to thank Susan and all of you for the raffle and the wonderful comments.

God has truly blessed us by allowing us to have 20 years of wonderful mission experiences in many countries. He continues to bless us by helping us to get through this new trial.

Again thanks to everyone and especially you Susan. Love Uncle Jan and Aunt Shirl

Elizabeth said...

While I can't donate (finances are the pits right now), I wanted to extend my good wishes and prayers for your aunt and uncle, and to say that this is a wonderful thing to do. I really wish I could donate. I'm going to forward this to my sister, who can probably find people who will donate.

Beth (Beth123B on Ravelry)

George the Girl said...

I'll be praying!

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you all! I hope the amazing work Jan and Shirley have done all of their lives coupled with the hard work they both have to do now will be bolstered by the thoughts of all of those whose lives they have touched over the years. There is no doubt in my mind that Jan and Shirley will get past this difficult time and continue to inspire others in wonderful ways.

Phro5gg said...

What you give in love comes back to you ten-fold. The love you Aunt and Uncle have shown complete strangers will now come back to them. I will keep them in my thoughts and prayers!

5elementknitr said...

I was lucky enough to receive a reusable grocery type bag from your farm during a swap.

I'd like to donate another prize.

Email me at Ruth AT

Kellie Huffman said...

I pray for your uncle's recovery and I am happy to donate to such wonderful people. I would like to thank them for all the work they have done. And I think it is rockin' awesome that the fiber community is pulling together to help out. God works in mysterious ways.

Anonymous said...

My prayers and thoughts are with them both and you and everyone that donated for the raffle. What a selfless and loving thing to do! I went to grad school at Radford and loved the community. Peace and blessings to you all.
Karen Odle

Mish said...

I've given my donation and I believe that God is setting a new path for your Uncle Jan and Aunt Shirley and that he now needs their help elsewhere.
Jan and Shirley, look to the future, not back, as that is where the Lord intends you to go.
All the best, Michelle

Hope said...

It is so difficult to understand why God allows tragedy to occur to well-meaning people, but we must have faith in his decisions.

Sylvia said...

What an amazing story! I wish your Uncle and Aunt the best of luck. May all their generosity be returned ten-fold!

They are lucky to have such a wonderful niece who is willing to part with her stash *gasp*! ;) You are doing a wonderful thing for them! I'm glad I happened to stumble back onto your blog.

(knittingnar on ravelry)

sarah said...

Susan, this story really hit home with me. My husband is currently in his third year of surgical residency, and we have plans to enter the mission field upon completion of his training.

To Jan & Shirley, may God be gracious enough that you are able to say with Job, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away - the name of the Lord be praised." God bless you both!

annadorothy said...

I'm so happy to be able to donate for your Uncle Jan and Aunt Shirley! They're in my prayers...

Anonymous said...

Just donated. Hope all goes well and the best of luck to your family.


Anonymous said...

You are so wonderful to do this for your aunt and uncle. Best of luck to all of you!

Anonymous said...

your uncle is in a great place! my cousin was there and made what we all consider to be a truly miraculous recovery - I wish the same for you uncle.

Allison L. said...

Dearest Jan and Shirley,

Thank you so much for your loving kindness and generosity. For those who are so comfortable giving, it can be a challenge to receive. Please know that you are deeply loved, and that you absolutely do deserve the outpouring of love and good will that is coming your way (in thoughts, words and deeds).

May you find and cherish this cloud's silver lining.

With affection...

NH Knitting Mama said...

May the Grace of God continue to shine on your family. I hope the recovery is smooth and successful.

Kristi V said...

I sent you an email with some resources that may be helpful. I hope you see continued improvement and have peace of mind and heart.

Best wishes,

Jo said...

Your story has moved me to tears, warmest wishes from the UK.

Jessica said...

You are an amazing niece that has learned so much about giving from the example set by your equally amazing aunt & uncle.

Your story touched a spot in my heart because a dear teacher from my hometown was not so lucky in a similar accident. It is in his memory that I am donating to help your family. I hope you achieve and surpass your goals with this raffle!

Many hugs to you and your family!!!

Michelle said...

What a wonderful thing you are doing! Seeing all of the donations brought tears to my eyes. I will keep your aunt and uncle in my thoughts.

Bansidhe said...

Followed a link from Not Martha to get here, and I have one question: Will the Jan Levy Wheelchair Fund still be taking donations after the 13th?

I'm a little strapped for cash 'til payday, so no raffle for me -- but people willing to give that much of themselves truly deserve something back.

Jessica Alfieri said...

You're doing such a great thing here. Wishing you the best of luck with this.

And to Jan and Shirley, you've given the world an amazing part of you. I hope you receive some back now.

Ceece said...

I don't think that I can say much else that hasn't already been said.

Let them know that I'll be praying for them as well.

Best of luck with the raffle.

Tracey in WA said...

I am so sorry!!! I just donated and if by some chance I win, just keep your yarn stash, you are worth every bit of it and more!!

Wendy said...

Praying hard!!!
Many blessing to you all!

Anonymous said...

God bless your Aunt & Uncle and you for what you're doing.
Sandra Singh

Sandie said...

Such generous hearts! Prayers for all of you as you go through this day by day.

Mom said...

What a wonderful raffle idea - I am always so happy to learn about the ways that we reach out to help one another. Humanity is beautiful. My thoughts are with you and your family as you begin this journey.

Kirby said...

This made me tear up at work. My wishes go out to them. I've donated.

Turtle said...

best wishes to them both and your family for the great amount of support you are showing them! It always seems that such things happen to good people, adding new challenges to their already dedicated lives. I am sure they are going to find a new way to do their work with the new circumstances. I hope you make the goal for a chair!

The Bon said...

donation sent! good luck raising needed funds.

Meg said...

done! What wonderful people, both your aunt and uncle, and all the women who donated prizes. I hope he has a speedy and successful recovery.

Louise said...

My thoughts are with your family. It's easy to feel helpless during a time like this, but what a creative and generous idea! Your aunt and uncle are lucky to have you in their lives. Thanks for the opportunity to help out, even if just a little bit.

patita said...

Your aunt and uncle sound like they embody the best traits of compassion and charity. Here they are inspiring so many of us to be charitable as well! :)

If they need any special knitted items for comfort or health, just give a holler on Ravelry, ok?

Rachel said...

I was touched by your story and happily am donating. Healing thoughts during this tough time

Rachel (naptimeknit)

Donna in VA said...

Loving thoughts and prayers sent your family's way.


uncle jan, i was born with spina bifida menegeomylocycle 62 years ago. i only went to a wheelchair ten years ago and that was because i got tired of my feet dangling all the time (i'm 4'8"). after my 3rd spinal surgery (1 to close my back and 2 tetered cords), i have been spending most of my time with my chair. it's not as good as legs but, brother, sometimes it's a hell of a lot faster than mine ever were! and it will help you keep up with your wife! that's for sure! now listen i know you are going to get tired and angry and frustrated as anyone can get...that's ok and you know it is to be're a doctor already! you know that in your it is time for you to learn that in your being! aunt shirley, i hope he is a lot better patient than my doctor dad ever was! i can tell you, he was a real pain in the butt! ok, are you ready for my medicine as a patient? LAUGH! at anything and every thing! read "heaven help us" by herbert tarr and his "the conversion of chaplin cohen", probably not in print, but you might be able to find them on=line. if you can read any six pages without laugh out loud, you need a quick injection of the giggles! i'm serious! you both make sure you FIND something to laugh about AT LEAST TWICE a day!!! the blacker the mood, the harder you have to search! do not read and watch the news. pick one or the other. too much news is just too depressing! o, and accept all the love you can give one another and from all that want to give it to you both! and all the help others want to give...just like others gave it to you! DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR BEING...just feel the love and say thank you like the gentleman your momma taught you to be. aunt shirley, when he is being a prickly pear, tell him "sandy said quit being a pain in the bu-tox" (the last was my great aunt's pronuncation)! uncle jan, if you need a good moan and you think you fair lady has had enough, i an a good listener/reader! ;-}

sandy (puddle duck)

Kate Smith said...

My dad was in a catastrophic bicycle accident last summer, and he is now a quadri/paraplegic (some use of his arms but not of his hands). We consider ourselves blessed that Dad doesn't seem to have any cognitive loss. He and my mom spent the month of May at the Shepard Center - it's a fine place.

Your Aunt & Uncle will need all the help and prayers they can get. I'm sending along my little bit of both. Bless you for organizing this raffle.

ps/as hard as it is for Uncle Jan, I send an extra prayer for Aunt Shirley, who has a 24 hour a day job from now on. The responsibility and work are awesome, and not in a good way.

Audra said...

Not only do you get the support from SO many people, but you get to start a new stash too!

S G said...

Your Aunt and Uncle are phenomenal people....and their niece is following in their footsteps. Best wishes to all of you!

Good luck to all with the raffle - we're all winners!

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