As you know it's almost voting time. This year my cousin Leslie Jenkins wanted to write my story this year. Although it has to be shortened, I wanted to share my full story here. Here's my story...in her words:
Amber Dawn Chaffee came into this world two and a half months early. Born December 27, 1981 at a mere 2 lbs 13oz, she came out fighting and has yet to stop. Amber’s first feat in life would be to prove all the Doctors wrong, as they had told her parents she would more than likely not live long enough to go home. Fifty-one days later she proved them wrong. Those of us that know Amber could confidently bet money that she probably smirked at the Doctors on her way out, because we all know nothing makes Amber happier than doing what she has been told she cannot.
In her short 32 years she has defeated nearly all the obstacles placed before her. Amber moved into her first place at the age of 19. She craves independence, and thoroughly enjoys being mobile enough to be able to care for herself. While she will accept a helping hand when needed, Amber would much rather do it on her own.
Amber works a full-time job as a cashier at Wal-Mart. She has been gainfully employed there since November 7, 2006. She loves her job, and wouldn’t feel as bad about it if she didn’t also know the downside of having it. As you see her job is only possible because of the dedication of a Mother to ensure that her daughter is as independent and normal as possible. Amber’s mother, Dawn, also works at Wal-Mart. She picks Amber up every night for work, and drops her off every morning. No big deal, right? Wrong! She drives an extra forty miles (round-trip) everyday so that her daughter can enjoy the same freedoms that most of us take for granted. This was even more of an amazing testament of her love for Amber (and her independence) when she continued to do so even after being diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Driving can’t be that hard right? Yeah it adds time and miles. Well driving isn’t the hard part in this scenario. The hard part comes in the loading and unloading. Amber’s wheelchair is not light by any means. This leaves my Aunt – who mind you weighs no more than 115 lbs (soaking wet and with pockets full of change lol) – to get the wheelchair in and out of her van, with the use of tri-fold ramps (which are not exactly light either) four times a night.
With the encouragement of her Mother, Amber, began working towards getting her driver’s license. Amber worked hard for a year and a half, and finally on July 24, 2009 she had achieved one of her biggest goals in life. Everyone remembers how they felt when the first got their license, overwhelming excitement accompanied with the urge to jump in a car and go for a cruise. This was all quickly overcome by the realization to Amber that she also needed a vehicle to completely fulfill this goal. This is where something rare happens. This is the place where Amber has found a hurdle bigger than she can climb over. Even as hard as she works, the cost of a vehicle is beyond her limits. The biggest, and so far most out of reach goal to complete her independence is a handicapped equipped vehicle. To those of us that know Amber we know, if Amber had a vehicle the sky would be the limit. She is the most determined person many of us have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We are positive if Amber had the means, she would positively impact everything and every person lucky enough to encounter her.
Below is a few quotes attesting to the type of individual Amber is, and why she deserves to win her independence. I thought fitting that the first quote should be from Amber herself.
“Can you please help me make my dream to be as independent as possible come true? Help me to make my Mom’s life, and the lives of the rest of my family/friends who take time out of their busy schedules to get me where I need to be easier. Thank you.” – Amber Dawn Chaffee