Karen was born in the 1970’s with a global development delay and hydrocephalus which is the buildup of fluid in the ventricles deep within the brain. There is no cure for hydrocephalus and in Karen’s situation, she was not a candidate to have the blockages surgically removed.
When Karen was growing up, she couldn’t apply for public assistance until she turned 16 years of age. Terri had never heard of Variety – the Children’s Charity and knew nothing of the help they could have offered her daughter. Unfortunately, the social workers and professionals in the education system who could have offered Terri advice on where to find help didn’t. In fact, Karen’s school counsellor once commented that “kids like Karen will never be able to improve their lives.”
But Karen and Terri didn’t give up and when Karen was 18, she joined the Special Olympics Women’s Hockey Team. On the team, Karen worked very hard to gain ownership of her life.
Regrettably Karen passed away when she was 46. Terri shared that “had Karen received the therapies she needed when she was growing up, she would have likely reached her full potential and lived a longer and more fulfilling life. I am grateful now to be able to make a difference by joining both the Variety Cares Community and the Legacy Circle. Every donation I make is in memory of Karen and it makes me feel good to know that I am able to contribute to help special needs children any way I can. Karen would be very happy to know she is helping as well.”
“I will continue to support Variety because of its wonderful job helping children with special needs. I only wish I had that advantage while Karen, my daughter was young.”
– Terri Russell, VCC Member since 2021
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