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Islander requests donations to Chamber Of Hope instead of gifts

By Staff | Jul 13, 2011

Paige Law, left, and her friend Haley Fleishman show off the glow-in-the-dark wrist bands that will be given to attendees of Paige's 16th birthday party, which will serve as a fundraiser for the Hyperbaric Center For Children Chamber Of Hope.

For most teenage girls, an impending 16th birthday party might conjure up dreams of a wild and raucous gala with all of her BFFs clad in outrageous outfits, a huge pile of presents stacked floor to ceiling and an expensive automobile wrapped in a gigantic ribbon.

But Paige Law isn’t like most teenage girls.

Sure, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, playing sports and planning a career as an international businesswoman. However, Law’s idea for her 16th birthday celebration has a loftier ambition.

“I love parties, and I wanted to have a big birthday party and invite all of my friends,” said Paige, who turns 16 on Aug. 1. “But I don’t want any presents. I’d like my friends to make a donation to the Chamber Of Hope. They need the gifts more than I do.”

The Hyperbaric Center For Children Chamber Of Hope, located in St. Petersburg, Fla., uses state-of-the-art, portable hyperbaric oxygen chambers to treat children afflicted with a number of maladies, including cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries as well as other neurological disorders.

One of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers used at the St. Petersburg, Fla. facility, which treats between 20 and 25 children each day.

Law became familiar with mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy (mHBOT) after suffering an injury to her leg while playing soccer. Her physician, Dr. Chance Wunderlich in Cape Coral, recommended that she try mHBOT in order to accelerate her recovery time.

It did.

“Before I started the treatments, the bruise on my leg was like this,” said Law, holding her hands to roughly the size of a football. “And in like a few days, it was the size of a quarter!”

By definition, mHBOT is a procedure in which a person (child or adult) is exposed to increased pressure, allowing far greater absorption of oxygen throughout the body’s tissues. By being under pressure, it forces circulation into parts of the body that were not previously receiving adequate blood circulation.The increased pressure permits more oxygen to reach cells inside the body, therefore contributing to the many healing and therapeutic benefits.

While the concept of hyperbaric oxygenation has been around for more than three centuries, it has only become embraced by conventional medical practices over the past 40 years.

Law, who will begin her junior year at Bishop Verot High School next month, talked to her mother, Wendy, who was immediately supportive of staging a 16th birthday party as a fundraiser for the Chamber Of Hope.

“She told me that she wanted to have a big, big party… but she didn’t want any presents,” recalled Wendy Law. “She really enjoys helping younger children. I’ve always said that she’s going to become a pediatrician someday.”

According to the Chamber’s website, of the estimated 74 million children in the United States, more than one million kids suffer brain injuries each year and an estimated 10-15 percent are afflicted with neurological problems. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a safe, proven treatment for neurological problems and brain injuries. It can dramatically impact and improve the life of a child and his or her family.

At the Chamber Of Hope, no payments are required for any child’s treatment. That is why donations are critically important to the sustainability of the facility.

Last week, invitations to Paige’s 16th birthday party — to be held on Friday, July 29 — were mailed out to approximately 140 friends, with each invite allowing an additional guest to attend. Those who attend the party and make a donation to the Chamber Of Hope will receive glow-in-the-dark wrist bands, necklaces and accessories to wear throughout the three-hour “glow” dance party.

“All were asking for is to give whatever you can — even a penny counts,” said Law, who hopes to raise $1,000 for the mHBOT treatment facility. “I know it’s a lot to ask teenagers for money because we just want to party, but it’s for a very worthwhile cause.”

One of Law’s friends, Haley Fleishman, said that she admires Paige for organizing the fundraiser instead of a traditional “Sweet 16” gathering.

“I think that it shows a lot about her,” said Fleishman. “It proves just how good a person she is to be giving back, but it’s also gonna be a really cool party.”

Paige’s physician was happy to hear about Paige’s plans for her 16th birthday party, but he wasn’t too surprised.

“She is an exceptionally bright young lady to think that way,” said Dr. Wunderlich. “Paige has wonderful parents who have raised her very well. My sons are 12 and almost 10, and I hope that when they turn 16, they’ll do the same thing.”

Hoping to follow in her sister’s footsteps and attend Stetson University in a couple of years, Law plans on presenting the operators of the Chamber Of Hope with “a giant check.” She also hopes to bring along a friend or two.

“I’d like to deliver it with some of my friends, so they can see what I’ve been talking about,” she added. “When I heard some stories about kids they treat there, and how much better they’ve gotten, my jaw just dropped. It’s pretty amazing”

To give back, on behalf of children receiving life-changing medical treatments, is pretty amazing, too.