Monday, January 4, 2016

Portland woman with myopathy organizes sock drive for young hospital patients

Andie Proskus is no stranger to spending time in the hospital.  Diagnosed in high school with myopathy, a neuromuscular disease that left her unable to hold herself upright, she's spent many hours undergoing surgeries and tests.  After a nine-hour surgery during her junior year of high school and the resulting long hospital stay, she truly realized how isolating such events can be.

Since then, she has been working to improve the lives of young people who have to stay in the hospital, a project which this year took the form of starting a sock drive.  Proskus says the idea came to her a few months ago, and she originally hoped to collect 500 pairs of socks.  She ended up with 1,930 pairs.  After she put out a call on social media, donations poured in from as far away as Australia.

This isn't Proskus's first experience doing philanthropic work.  In 2012, the then 19-year-old began putting together care packages for children who had to have extended hospital stays, calling the packages "Smiles from Andie" boxes.  It was a learning process, researching what kinds of boxes and toys would be best—Doernbecher Children's Hospital told her not to include anything that might be a choking hazard, and also that including too many toys might be overwhelming.  Proskus spent hours finding the right toys, picking out warm and colorful socks to include, and carefully decorating each package.  She couldn't usually deliver the boxes herself, as she is not a registered nonprofit organization, but the hospital staff made sure the care packages were given to the children.

Proskus's disease has limited her mobility, but she hasn't let it stop her from doing physical activities either.  She's crossed the finish line in ten local races, and these days she still takes part in races with the help of volunteers who push her in a chair.  Last summer, she completed a major walking goal: 2.5 miles, all upward, on Terwilliger Hill.  She's said that when she's at the waterfront, walking or being pushed in her chair, that's when she's happiest and her disability disappears.

This December, Proskus delivered 500 pairs of socks to children at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, with plans to visit more hospitals to make similar deliveries.  Her disease is a progressive one, and Doernbecher Child Life Specialist Sandy Westfall noted that Proskus's being well enough to come and make the deliveries is uplifting for both her and the children.

You can find out more about Andie Proskus from, OregonLive, and, and you can keep up with her on her Facebook page.

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