Sweet-16 party to raise money for Cape Girardeau teen

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Victoria Lowes

Victoria Lowes spent her 16th birthday, Feb. 16, at a children's hospital in St. Louis. The Cape Girardeau teen arrived home a day later after a three-month stay recovering from pneumonia, which began as a bout with the flu.

Now, organizers are throwing here a belated birthday bash and hoping to raise funds for medical expenses and ongoing care. Victoria had a tracheotomy, which needs continued care, and she uses a ventilator.

The sweet 16 fund-raiser, which will be a dance and include karaoke and a silent auction, will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Cape Girardeau Knights of Columbus Hall. The sweet 16 theme will incorporate Victoria's favorite colors -- black, purple and blue -- and dolphins, her favorite collectible. A trivia night fund-raiser is also set for 7 p.m. May 12 at St. Mary's Cathedral gymnasium.

Victoria, who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at birth, was sent to the children's hospital after going into respiratory arrest Nov. 23. Her mother, Edie Lowes, said it was the scariest day of her life, and rushing the teen to Southeast Missouri Hospital in that state was unnerving.

"What struck me was how outstanding the hospital ER staff were. Without their quick response, we would've lost her," she said.

Edie said Victoria's decreased muscle strength and tone have made it difficult to do things other children take for granted. Victoria was involved in physical therapy, but not as intensely when attending school, her mother said. Victoria also took a martial arts class for children with special needs.

"We fooled ourselves all these years with Victoria being on the edge of not having MD that severely," Edie said. "She functioned pretty well but slower than children her age."

Muscular dystrophy is a group of more than 30 genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement. Treatment may include physical therapy, respiratory therapy, speech therapy, orthopedic appliances for support and corrective orthopedic surgery.

Victoria's pneumonia set her back, and building up strength and endurance will take time, Edie said. As she regained her strength, Victoria began doing homework and sending it back to school in early February to keep up with a part of her life she seriously missed.

She went back to school Tuesday for one class. Victoria hopes to begin attending school two, and eventually, three times a week.

"She has renewed enthusiasm for doing homework because she looks forward to going to going to school," Edie said.

Edie said Victoria was supported by family, friends and classmate at Central High School during here hospital stay and recuperation. "It wasn't just in the beginning, and it wasn't just from kids who were her friends either," she said. "E-mails, cards and visits came from kids who had seen her in the hall or just sat behind her in class. They raised money by selling shamrocks in March, had pizza parties and watched movies with her. It's inspirational and a great morale booster for her."

Donations can be deposited at any US Bank. For more information on the fund-raisers, call Dina at 204-0214 or Tommy at 264-2237.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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