“Friendship isn’t about perfection, but how we ‘link’ together to make something special”. Those are the encouraging words on the top of the Friendship Link Scarf flyers you may have seen around town. These friendship scarves not only link two people together, but everyone who purchases one as they support a young boy named Will.
Evalena “Lena” Wilke and Will Holland made an instant connection on the first day of kindergarten and have built a special relationship throughout the school year. The two attend the same church and a familiar face was just what they needed to make kindergarten go by smoothly. They have a normal friendship, talking, joking around, making silly faces at each other, but through trying times Lena has stepped up and proven to be the best friend anyone could ask for.
Will suffers from Cerebral Folate Deficiency (CFD) with Ataxia. This condition damaged Will’s cerebellum, which is the part of the brain responsible for many areas of development. Will struggles with both fine and gross motor activities due to his condition. In Kansas City, Mo., the Hyperbaric Healing Institute (HHI) offers a specialized therapy that is designed to train the brain and body to work together. This therapy is intended to help Will stand and walk on his own by wearing a special suit for a three hour time span for the three weeks the family visits HHI. “The suit has bungee cords on it and almost feels like you are being hugged while it’s on. This helps Will to feel all of his movements and to be aware of how his body is working together,” Will’s mom, Melinda Holland, said. HHI also offers Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, which provides pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The chamber helps to deliver 10 – 15 times more oxygen to Will’s body. The extra oxygen helps promote new blood vessels to grow and improve brain function. Will has this therapy the same three weeks that he is also having the suit therapy. “I have seen a lot of improvements since Will has started the oxygen chamber treatments. He has become stronger, more confident, he shows higher verbal skills, and even his sight and smell seems to be improving,” Melinda added. All of these treatments help Will to improve his life but come at a cost; a cost that insurance doesn’t fully cover.
Lena observed the need her friend had for these treatments and decided to do something to help the family out. Just two weeks prior to a fundraiser night held at Chihuahua’s Restaurant for Will, Lena was taught to finger crochet from her mother, Megan Wilke. Lena decided she wanted to help make a difference like the other fundraisers and came up with a great plan to do so. This year’s new craze was all about the infinity scarves and Lena possessed the newly acquired talents of finger crocheting. The Friendship Link Scarf was something that Lena was able to commit to and sell to help Will receive his therapies that he needs. She spent many nights crocheting and making different size scarves and in different colors. Lena said, “I wanted to do it because it helps Will go to Kansas City to get therapy and get stronger.”
Family, friends and teachers in the Troy School District have been great supporters as the orders rushed in. “Lena did the work until we had an overwhelming amount of orders. Will’s paraprofessional, Ms. Blake, started to help Lena and myself,” Megan said. Each scarf takes about 15 minutes to complete, depending on the size that is ordered. Since April, Lena has sold over 120 scarves and has raised over $700 for Will and his family.
“We will continue to sell them throughout the summer and hit hard again once school is back in session,” explained Megan. There are many different color combinations, a child size and an adult size that can be purchased. For orders, contact Megan Wilke at 314-713-2042 or email Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit their Facebook page “Friendship Scarves for Will”.
All funds will go to the Holland family for medical purchases to help Will receive his treatment.
The Holland family is planning their next three-week visit to the HHI during July. This means a three-week stay in a hotel; food and the oxygen chamber treatment will be all out of pocket.