— By Jason Young
Most people don’t get two chances to see their child stand for the first time. I did. A text came through on my phone with a picture of my then-5-year-old daughter standing, balanced against a wall, unassisted by nothing but her own body. And, just like when I saw her take her first wobbly steps, I cried.
Many of you have heard about Kylee by now: You’ve seen us sitting in the ADA section above 108 and stopped to say hi, or you read her story when you bought tickets for the scarf raffle for her. You’ve heard about the food-borne illness she contracted just before she turned 2. You’ve heard about the stroke that soon followed. But most of you don’t know just how resilient my little girl is. She spent a lot of a year in Doernbecher Hospital, up the hill at OHSU, while a combination of surgeries, procedures and medications attempted to keep up with the damage done to her brain, bowels and kidneys. Her heart almost stopped, but that didn’t stop Kylee. Neither did the coma, induced to give her tiny body a chance to heal. Her kidneys decided to stop working, but Kylee never did, toughing it out through months of dialysis until her mother could donate a kidney of her own. (Nothing I ever give to Kylee can compare to that gift.)
Good timber doesn’t grow with ease, and neither do good TA, apparently. Her favorite scarf says “Got Born In,” and she was. Her first lullabies were set to the tune of TA chants — I had to stop that when she’d start to cry whenever “Onward Rose City” started, thinking we’d have to leave the match and go to bed. She was a regular in 107 and loved clapping along to “PT-FC.” We started taking her back to Timbers matches as soon as she was well enough to handle it, wanting to immerse her in as much family, love and soccer as we could. We found a new home just above 108, where she has a great view of Sunday, her favorite capo.
Kylee will miss a bit of the 2017 season, but she’s got a good reason: We’ve started a new treatment that has her traveling to Los Angeles on a regular basis. She’s made the trip a few times already. She now has electrodes implanted in her brain, powered by batteries implanted in her chest. (Yes, my daughter is a cyborg.) The hope is that all this hardware will help her brain communicate better with her muscles, giving her back as much of the motor control as possible that she lost after her stroke. This treatment is in the clinical trial phase, so for us, it’s a first. But it has me looking forward to so many potential second chances. The second chance to hear my daughter speak her first words. The second chance to watch her take her first steps. Taste her first foods. Stand with her arms up, chanting at a match. I’ll treasure each and every one, even more than I did the first time around.
We have always considered the TA to be Kylee’s second family, and now we are humbly asking that family for help with her second chances. By now, we’re used to finding ways to cover medical care for Kylee; however, her trips to L.A. include extra expenses above and beyond the care she receives in Portland. These expenses include airfare, baggage fees, taxi or Uber fares, hotels and more.
We’ve included a link to her GoFundMe page if you would like to help this little North End Ultra get back on her feet. (Honestly, it has some adorable pictures of Kylee on it, so you should take a look just for that.) If you would like to donate hotel loyalty points, car rental loyalty points, or Alaska Airline miles, we would be incredibly appreciative. If you have any suggestions or connections that might help us, don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you just want to say hi, don’t be shy. Kylee would love it!
We’ll see you March 3rd!