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    We were scared and devastated. Doctors had just diagnosed our daughter Melanie with advanced Stage 3 chronic kidney disease in August 2021. Doctors told us that she would need a kidney transplant to survive. I could either sit and cry over the devastating news, or I could prepare to fight for my daughter’s life. And like any mother, I found the strength to support her fight.

    I was a compatible kidney match for Melanie, so in October of last year, doctors at Lurie Children’s Hospital removed one my kidneys and successfully transplanted the organ into Melanie. God prepares us for these heavy, challenging times. It was nearly overwhelming at the beginning, and I felt like the weakest person, but I knew I had to be tough when I fought for my daughter’s wellbeing.

    Melanie is now a seventh-grade student at Holy Family School in Shorewood, and our older son Jason is a senior at Joliet Catholic Academy. We are one of thousands of families in Illinois who sit on the waitlist for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program to fund our kids’ education based on our financial need. We feel strongly that Melanie needs to remain at her best-fit school, Holy Family – and a tax credit scholarship would make that possible. The class sizes are smaller, and with her ongoing health challenges, her teachers are able to provide her with the extra care she needs. Plus, every day we’re amazed at the compassion and empathy we see from her classmates. Melanie is providing a real-life example for other kids on how they can learn to be better people for this world.

    With all the medical expenses from Melanie’s kidney transplant, plus the cost of driving two hours twice a week to get to and from the hospital, paying for schooling like we once were able to has become a financial hardship for my family. It is especially difficult to identify sources of where the money could come from, which is why her receiving a tax credit scholarship last year was such a relief. But honestly, our last concern has been the money. We will do anything — sell our house or whatever is needed — to keep fighting for Melanie’s health.

    Melanie remains near the top of the waiting list to receive a tax credit scholarship for the current school year. For her best chance at receiving a scholarship, our legislators in Springfield must place the needs of children before politics and extend the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program. Receiving a tax credit scholarship for this school year and years to come would be amazing for our family to help counter our rising medical costs, which jeopardize Melanie’s ability to remain at her best-fit school. A kidney transplant is not a cure, which means there will be continuous medical costs throughout Melanie’s life, and the continuous need for a school that can support her unique needs.

    Melanie faces immediate challenges with her physical growth and long-term memory because of the side effects of her kidney medicine, but her incredible teachers at Holy Family School have been incredibly helpful and have provided Melanie with the extra support she needs. Now we need our legislators to come to Melanie’s rescue, too. As a mother, I am pleading with you — please extend the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.

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