Since working at Plus One, I have begun to notice a trend. Many if not all of Plus One clients possess a quality that no one else I know has, the quality to break barriers, overcome imaginable obstacles, and turn the doctors doubts, into stunned disbelief. Zoe is no exception. I met Zoe during a winter day. The sun was shining brightly, not quite as brightly as Zoe though. Zoe has an extraordinary story. Currently Zoe is 22 years old, and has already overcome more than most of us do in our life.
It was in her early teen years that a debilitating illness consumed Zoe. The sickness called encephalitis left her with brain damage. She was in a coma for 3 months and when she first woke up from it, she had a tracheotomy and a feeding tube. No one was sure what she would be able to do. As things progressed, her doctors discovered that the brain injury she had sustained left her with short-term memory impairment in addition to a seizure disorder.
Zoe’s life was changed in a big way. Prior to, her family and friends described her as a high achieving home-schooled teenager. Who regularly volunteered at the local public library, and the home school resource center library. Zoe received constant recognition for her artistic abilities and assisted the art instructor at the home school resource center. She also regularly performed as part of a Mexican folk dance troupe. This new lifestyle change didn’t define Zoe however.
Health care professionals working with Zoe have been often amazed at her recovery. Zoe has exceeded everyone’s thoughts about what she could do! She defied the odds; she was walking after 3 months in a coma! The doctors did not know what to think, it was all so unexpected, that it was soon after her sudden almost complete recovery of conversational abilities that she was claimed a "miracle" by the director of the neurology department at Seattle Children's Hospital.
Joyous and proud of her, Zoe’s family has taken her recoveries as inspiring and something they celebrate with those whom learn about her story.
In 2008, a year after being released from the hospital Zoe had another landmark accomplishment. Without assistance Zoe stood for 30 seconds! She had worked hard toward this goal of standing without help while the National Anthem was played at a school rally.
Her parents have reported, that today, Zoe walks around her home completely unassisted and often goes out into the community using only a walker.
Zoe's vision is to walk and even dance as she did prior to her illness and Plus One is providing important services that will eventually get her to that goal. Zoe loves Plus One for all of the help they have been through the physically frustrating times, by not only providing physical assistance to Zoe through grants, but also by providing emotional encouragement to her and her family. Zoe’s progress had slowed and even reversed during the year before Sue Bream (Zoe’s body therapy coach, provided through Plus One) began working with Zoe. Starting with Sue's sessions a few months ago, Zoe is again making gains in endurance, flexibility and balance. “Plus One and Sue Bream deserve the highest praise and thanks for their work” says Zoe’s father.
Currently, Zoe is searching for employment and has volunteered at daycare and nursing home facilities in the recent past. She is taking an introductory computer class and is involved in social groups.
Zoe went from being full-time in a wheel chair to being able to maneuver throughout her home completely un helped, and it is all accredited to the hard work of Zoe enduring trials set in front of her, and the Plus One team who continues to cheer for her and her success. With the continual grants that Zoe is rewarded through Plus One, we imagine Zoe will continue to defy the odds, and bring inspiration to her family and community around her.