A local woman suffering from a rare neurological disorder is back at home in Indiana after more than a year of living in hospitals and nursing homes.
Through an effort by local organizations, Dove Bright, who was paralyzed by acute transverse myelitis on Feb. 24, 2012, was welcomed home on July 9, ahead of the goal to have her back before her 21st birthday July 16.
To have her home is a relief, said her mother, Melanie Bright.
“I never once made that trip home without crying,” Melanie said. “I hated leaving her an hour away.”
Dove said she is extremely happy to be home and out of the nursing home, where she was the youngest patient.
She is enjoying being closer to her family and friends after living away for nearly a year and a half.
Bringing Dove home was a long process in which the community joined together to help through donations, fundraisers and volunteer work, Melanie said.
Her 381 Grant St. home needed to be modified for Dove’s needs, which include use of a wheelchair and a special lift.
The modifications were a community effort led by the Indiana County Office of Planning and Development and implemented with C&C Construction, Anderson Plumbing & Heating, Sheesley Electric, volunteers Mark Milner and his crew (all of whom know Dove), the Indiana Eagles Club, K.R. Woomer, Tree Monkeys and a men’s church group that built a ramp onto her home.
And there is more to come. A mission group from Grace United Methodist Church will do landscaping soon outside Dove’s new room. They are looking for volunteers or donations for that project, Melanie said.
Donations were made by individuals and businesses to the Dove Bright Care Fund at S&T Bank, still in use, and there will be more fundraisers to help with expenses to obtain a service monkey to assist Dove, and with needs for medical equipment.
The family is extremely grateful, and Dove always says she is blessed for all the support she has received, Melanie said.
“Everybody involved has gone over and beyond anyone’s expectations,” Melanie said.
Dove was involved in the project and able to choose many aspects of her new room, including paint, windows and flooring.
Prior to coming home, Dove spent three weeks at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, where she prepared with therapy for life at home. There, she said she had a wonderful experience on the spinal floor, where there were others in her same age range going through similar situations.
Now that she is home, she has a to-do list to keep her busy. On the list is personally thanking the people from businesses and organizations who helped her return.
Dove’s travels are possible through a gift from Citizens’ Ambulance, Melanie’s employer, they said.
She is also looking forward to the possibility of online classes, and would love to start a care home for younger people so they wouldn’t have to be placed in nursing homes, where the population is generally elderly.
Her main goal, she said, is to be independent so that she doesn’t need a 24-hour companion.
And her neurologist has given her hope that one day stem cells could restore her ability to walk.
“We will definitely never give up hope,” Melanie said.
Dove appreciates prayers, cards and visitors, and donations are still being accepted to the Dove Bright Care Fund at S&T Bank. “Love for Dove” T-shirts and bracelets, made by Fast Times, are also available for sale.
PHOTO: Dove Bright is happy to be home at her mother’s house in Indiana, which was recently renovated to meet her needs. (JAMIE EMPFIELD/Gazette)