Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
On Nov. 29, Gina and I took our daughter Riley to an eye appointment and our lives were changed forever. As you can imagine, her diagnosis left us completely shocked and devastated. Then something truly amazing happened. We started hearing stories of our friends, family, and community rallying around us and offering love, hope, and support in ways and volumes that we could never have imagined. I can’t begin to tell you how uplifting that has been. We found ourselves smiling again and more than that, I knew that we had a source of strength to help push us through these difficult times and come out better for having fought through them. It feels like the goodwill of people is waging war against this horrible disease and that is a powerful thing.
Those of you that know Riley can attest to what a warm and caring little girl she is. She has always put other people’s needs and feelings ahead of her own as that is what comes naturally to her. Even now as she is recovering from surgery and faced with the fight of her life, which she is fully aware of, she keeps smiling, laughing, hugging, and loving because she knows no other way. It’s crazy but even now she is helping us get through this. I honestly feel that her spirit of goodness is bringing out the best in everyone around her.
One thing that has been made very clear to us is that we have a long road ahead and that we as parents will be playing an intricate role in Riley’s recovery. We never realized that being the receivers of such generosity would be so challenging. What makes it less difficult is realizing that it allows us to devote ourselves completely to Riley’s care and recovery, and that’s our most important job.
Many wonderful people have told us that helping out makes them feel better. If that’s true then our community should feel wonderful and proud of the profound effect that they have had on our lives. My family and I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts for helping us through this unimaginably difficult time in our lives. Your generosity will never be forgotten.
Rick, Gina, Allie, Haley, and Riley Simmons
Jan. 8, 2013