Author raises awareness and money for disabilities

November 14, 2012

By Lillian O'Rorke

In May 2011, Julie Anderson sat down to write a book that had been years in the making.

“Through Christina’s Eyes” tells the story of her family, beginning with the author’s great-grandmother emigrating from Sweden in the late 1880s and continuing to the present day story of Julie Anderson’s disabled daughter, Anna.

“I just really felt called to write this. It was helpful for me with my daughter in working through issues that we face,” said Julie Anderson. “I wanted to tell her story because she is non-verbal. She isn’t able to express her voice like the rest of us do.”

Before she was born, Anna had a stroke while in the womb. Now at age 15, Anna attends Eastlake High School where she works with an occupational therapist, but she’s far from being like other teenagers. Doctors estimate that she is developmentally about a month-and-a-half old, Julie Anderson explained.

“It is really hard to put out details of your personal life,” said Julie Anderson, about deciding to publish her book through avenues like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. “In a way, it was probably better for me as an author to write it from the great-grandmother’s perspective.”

The book, which teeters between being a historical fiction and true life story, is told from Christina’s perspective as she adapts to life in late 19th century Chicago and looks over her decedents long after her 1912 death.

Julia Anderson wasn’t expecting to write a book when she first traveled to Sweden eight years ago and began researching her great-grandmother Christina, visiting the church where she was christened. But as she continued to learn about her family, the idea of writing a book kept emerging until finally Julia sat down and put pen to paper.

“It was kind of a long path… The main point is to get the story out of what women go through and struggles that people with disabilities go through,” said Julia Anderson. “There is a chapter in the book called fighting and that is what she is doing, is fighting, every day…she is doing the best she can. Every day is some new medical challenge.”

Her family’s medical challenges also inspired Julia Anderson to put another dream into action. Fueled by her daughter’s more than 50 visits to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital, Julia Anderson has launched the ER Kids Foundation with the hope to raise money for emergency rooms across the country, including Children’s.

“It’s been so important for my family,” she explained. “It’s just an area of the hospital that could use a little more attention.”

According to the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Children’s, Tony Woodward, half of the patients that get admitted to the hospital come through the ER, which, he said, currently sees about 40,000 people a year. That’s why a new ER is being built and is set to open April 23.

“We have an emergency room that was built many, many years ago. We are overcrowded every evening, which means that people have to wait,” he said.

He said the hospital went out on a limb, committing to building an emergency department capable of serving 60,000 patients before they had all the funding for it. “It’s a really important thing to think about…Having enough capacity, having the right equipment and the right staff allows us to give people exactly what they need when they need it.”

To find out more about ER Kids Foundation and the book “Through Christina’s Eyes” visit www.throughchristinaseyes.com.

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