Like you, we are friends of Courtney Lenaburg and her parents Mary and Jerry, and we’re writing to you because Courtney and her parents desperately need our help – and they need it today.
Without immediate assistance from us – their friends and family – Mary and Jerry will suffer financial ruin, be forced into bankruptcy, and possibly lose their home.
Their situation is desperate. Everything they have worked for could be lost in a matter of weeks.
That is, unless we help them now. For Mary and Jerry Lenaburg, these are desperate times.
Which is why we are sending you this letter – to ask for your assistance. In a moment, we will tell you exactly how you can help. But first, let us update you on why Mary and Jerry are at risk of possibly losing their home.
Courtney Elizabeth Lenaburg was born on August 18, 1992. Only five weeks after she was born, she began to experience life-threatening seizures, forcing her into convulsions that would complicate her breathing. These seizures caused Courtney a great deal of pain and her parents tremendous fear and anxiety.
They were forced to watch their beautiful little girl suffer. They feared for Courtney’s life. They prayed for the medication that would stop the seizures and allow Courtney to rest and breathe easily. Never did they imagine that Courtney would have to endure this agony her whole life.
And what exactly is Courtney’s affliction?
No one can say for sure. Even the world’s best physicians, practicing in our country’s finest medical institutions are unable to specifically diagnose Courtney’s condition. What they call it is….
…“Seizure disorder, origin unknown, with global developmental delays.”
Can you imagine what it would be like to have a doctor tell you this about one of your own children?
Can you imagine what Mary Lenaburg must have felt after months of tests as she sat in the hospital, holding her precious 9-month old daughter in her arms, and listening to doctors tell her that Courtney would not live past the age of three?
And while she was being told the words that every mother dreads, Jerry faced a different kind of shock. Hospital administrators told him that he would have to pay Courtney's bills in full, or she would not be discharged. How would he do it?
Jerry had to take out a loan to pay for tests that were inconclusive and pay for a cure which didn't exist. Together, Courtney, Mary and Jerry took the first step on a 15-year journey that would have Courtney fight daily to stay alive, and her parents struggle each day to find the resources to pay for her care.
We can’t imagine what Mary and Jerry have had to live with all these years – wondering if Courtney would suffer a seizure so bad that it would be her last; wondering how they would provide the medical care she needs and deserves.
We all have pressures. But somehow the stress of having to save for our children's education or to purchase a bigger home just doesn't compare to the daily struggle Mary and Jerry have faced for 15 years to keep their daughter alive.
After the doctors told Courtney’s parents the devastating news that their daughter would die in just a few short years, they next suggested that Mary and Jerry enter marriage counseling. Like most married couples who face this kind of horrific situation with a child, doctors told them, “your marriage is likely to end in divorce.”
Unfortunately, that is probably true for many families who face similar circumstances.
But it is not the case for Mary and Jerry. This year, they celebrate 19 years of holy matrimony. Their vows are unbroken, their love for each other is stronger than ever, and their faith in God is rock solid.
Their commitment to their children, Jonathan and Courtney, will never be broken. Courtney has not driven a wedge between her parents. Just the opposite. She gives them energy. She gives them inspiration. She shows them love. Jerry said that he now feels closer to God because “my daughter showed me what Christ looks like.”
Mary says, “It has – and will forever – be the greatest honor and privilege of my life to be Courtney’s and Jonathan's mother.”
But make no mistake…their faith is being tested. And the daily barrage of bad news continues.
Because of the massive medical bills they have paid to care for Courtney, Mary and Jerry have only a few weeks before they will have to declare bankruptcy. They believe – if all goes well and no more unexpected costs arise – that they can make it to Christmas.
But after that – in the absence of a miracle – Mary and Jerry will be in financial ruin.
They need our help – right now! Their situation is desperate and their hope is almost lost.
To pay for Courtney's medical expenses, several years ago, Mary and Jerry had to take out a second mortgage on their home. That balance now stands at $67,000.
Courtney’s care has forced them to accumulate another $75,000 in credit card debt.
And, even after slashing their living expenses to the bare bones, they are taking on debt on a monthly basis.
Mary and Jerry are in these desperate straights because for so long they have tried to make it on their own. They carried this heavy cross without complaint and have asked for help only when absolutely necessary.
Recently, Mary took a full time job as a Public Health Attendant at Fairfax County Public Schools to help pay down their debt. She was helping other kids like Courtney to bring in enough monthly income to allow them to squeak by and keep making payments on their debt.
But after just a month on the job, Courtney’s health suddenly deteriorated and Mary had to leave her job to care for Courtney constantly – 24 hours a day.
If we can help Mary and Jerry raise $67,000 to pay off their second mortgage, that will allow them to sell their home to pay down their other debts and avoid bankruptcy court.
Think about that – they have to raise money just to have the “option” of selling their home. They hate to do that, but they may have no other choice. Their home is Courtney's home. It is where she has lived the last eight years of her life. It is the place whose sounds and smells are familiar to her. It is where she is comfortable. Most important, this home is where Courtney is at peace.
But if we don't help Mary and Jerry raise that $67,000 before Christmas, if they can't pay off their second mortgage to be able to sell there home, they will forced into bankruptcy and relocation. We can't let that happen.
We can’t let them celebrate Christmas by losing everything they have.
Will you help us save Mary and Jerry Lenaburg from financial disaster? And before you make your decision, you should know that…this is NOT a case of two people looking for a handout.
It is very important that we make that clear. As friends of Mary and Jerry, we are sure you know that yourself.
Jerry and Mary Lenaburg are two of the hardest working people any of us know.
After graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Jerry Lenaburg served our country in the U.S. Navy for twelve years. During some very difficult and trying times for his family, Jerry was deployed at sea – protecting our nation from those who would harm our families.
Jerry loved the Navy. He was proud to be an Officer and to wear our nation's uniform. He enjoyed his job. He would likely still be in the Navy but for circumstances beyond his control.
But nine years ago, in order to care for Courtney and provide for his family, Jerry resigned from the Navy and took a position with a defense contractor. Jerry makes a good living, but it is just not enough to stay ahead of Courtney's extraordinary medical care and her daily living expenses that insurance won't cover.
As we write this, Courtney is suffering several seizures a day – and Mary is constantly worrying if the next seizure will be too much for Courtney to endure. Given all that she has on her mind, we can't let Mary also have to worry about bill collectors at her front door.
Jerry is now driving a 13-year old car that is badly in need of repairs. Mary’s specially-outfitted van for Courtney's wheelchair is still running, but with well over 120,000 miles, she fears for its future. Will her engine start in those cold winter months when Courtney has a doctor’s appointment?
They don't live extravagantly. They live in a very simple home and don't go out much as a couple because someone must constantly be with Courtney. They haven't taken a vacation in years and don't spend foolishly. But still the bills keep coming. And coming. And coming.
And so do Courtney’s seizures. She is now having three or four seizures each day. Mary needs to be there for her every hour of the day. When Courtney is able to attend her special school for therapy, Mary must be ready to pick her up at any time in case of a seizure. The school nursing staff has had to call the EMTS three times in the last five weeks alone. Courtney has been rushed to the hospital twice for prolonged seizures. Mary would hold a job if she could, but Courtney needs her mother at her side. She told us recently:
“Jerry and I promised Courtney long ago that we would never abandon her and that whatever God called us to do, we would do, for His honor and glory. And so we will.”
Please help Mary and Jerry keep their promise to Courtney. This is not easy for them. How many of us would let friends send this kind of a letter on our behalf? Would we be too embarrassed? Would we let our pride get in the way?
Think about it. We live, unfortunately, at a time where our “success” is judged mostly in dollars and cents. The size of our home, the neighborhood in which we live, the cars we drive, and the vacations we take are all crass measurements of a life lived.
But that is not how God judges us. Jerry and Mary have submitted to God's will, they have prayed for help and guidance. Other than throwing in the towel and declaring bankruptcy, they see no other option but to humbly ask their family and friends for financial help at this time in their lives.
Is it possible that God is using Mary and Jerry to give us an opportunity to get closer to Him? Could He be asking us in His own way, to be more thankful for the blessings in our own lives?
Christmas is approaching quickly. Consider all those things in your life for which you are grateful. Just think of the ability you have to help a friend in need and the resources at your disposal that could change a family's future for the better.
Now we ask you to prayerfully consider helping the Lenaburg Family. Don't let them declare bankruptcy. Help lift this financial burden from their shoulders. Together, we can make this the most meaningful Christmas holiday they have ever had.
Let us be even more blunt. We hate to put it in these terms, but we must face the facts:
Courtney's health is deteriorating to the point that this could be her last Christmas with her parents. We hope and pray that is not the case. As we said, she has beaten the odds for 15 years now. She continues to fight everyday and shows hope and optimism that put us all to shame. God willing, she will prove us wrong yet again and be with us for many more years.
But given the possibility, shouldn't we do everything in our power to make this a holiday season that the Lenaburgs can enjoy without having to deal with callous creditors?
As you consider your gift to help Courtney’s parents, we want you to know this story about Courtney:
When she was three years old – the age at which doctors predicted she would die – Courtney was in the Emergency Room with a severe, prolonged seizure. The attack lasted for close to an hour and doctors wondered out loud if she would survive.
At her bedside, Courtney’s grandfather demanded that she continue to fight. He told her:
“No granddaughter of mine is going to give up without a fight!”
Less than a minute later, the worst attack of Courtney’s young life was over and she was resting comfortably. She responded to her grandfather’s voice and fought to live another day.
For 15 years now, Courtney has defied the experts and beaten the odds. Her mom said, “God put this young lady on earth for a reason.” We asked her what she thinks that reason is. This is what Mary told us:
"We have seen Courtney touch the hearts of close friends and strangers alike. Courtney teaches love, God's unconditional love. She teaches us to appreciate a smile and the beauty of a breath taken. She has taught us what it means to serve another human being completely. She has given Jerry and I a chance to be Jesus’ hands and feet here on earth. She reminds us daily of our helplessness before the Lord and to fully recognize that He is the source of all our provisions and needs. Courtney's life is a testimony to love and a celebration of the dignity of the human person, both of which originate from the throne of God Himself."
We can attest to that. Courtney has taught us what faith is. She is a tower of strength and an inspiration to us all.
And if Mary Lenaburg is right, and God put Courtney on this earth for that reason, then we who know her have a special obligation to help Mary and Jerry in their time of need.
And he answering, said to them: He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do in like manner. - Luke 3:11
Please help Mary and Jerry keep their promise to Courtney. Please help them fight off bankruptcy. Please help them have a new reason to celebrate this Christmas.
Please consider maiking a donation to help Mary and Jerry pay off their $67,000 second mortgage so that they can avoid bankruptcy. And if possible, please return your donation by Thursday, December 20. We want to present Jerry and Mary with the results of your generosity before Christmas so that they will be able to enjoy the day without worry and add your support to the list of things for which they can be truly thankful.
Can you help us make that a possibility for Jerry and Mary? Will you help Courtney to fight and live another day with her parents at her side?
We are confident you will and we are grateful for your help and support.
On behalf of Mary, Jerry, Courtney and Jonathan, we thank you in advance for your incredible generosity.
We thank you for being the kind and generous friends to Mary and Jerry that we hope we will have in our lives if we are ever faced with a situation as serious as Mary and Jerry face.
God Bless you and thank you again.
John and Therese Ryan
Marques and Christine Silva
Tom and Meg Kilgannon
You may donate to "Courtney's Campaign" online by using PayPal.
Or you may make your contribution by check payable to “Jerry and Mary Lenaburg”, with “Courtney's Campaign” in the memo line to:
University Mall Branch
c/o Brad Lieby
10695 Braddock Road
Fairfax, Virginia 22032
Your gift is not tax-deductible for income tax purposes.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12
Labels: Courtney's World