On August 13th, 2011 at 8:49pm lives were changed forever after a major windstorm led to the collapse of the stage at the Indiana State Fair. 6 people have lost their lives and many others remain in very critical condition following a night that was supposed to be filled with laughter, fun and a performance by Sugarland. I have to admit, I have never met Andrea in person but talking to my best friend, and reading the stories from her brother, I feel like I have known her forever. It is amazing how a story like hers can change your life so suddenly… make you look at things in a whole new light! I am hoping that after reading some of the notes/ updates her brother Tyler has written that you too will be filled with the emotion and love for God that I am…
Andrea is a wife to Mike, mother to Lydia, sister, daughter, family member, co-worker, and friend to soooo many. You can see that her vibrant smile is contagious! She was part of what I call the “Hockey Wives Club”. Those who have been a part of their significant others journey through hockey, know that it isn’t always an easy one. With moves, trades, wins, losses, road trips, some broken noses and missing teeth the last thing a woman wants to worry about is not fitting in with the other girlfriends or wives of teammates. Let me tell you from experience… if you think the cliques from highschool are bad, think again! It can be downright brutal!!! Andrea reached out and became an amazing source of strength and friendship to one of my closest friends. Being on the road and away from family can be daunting, but Andrea made a world of difference to her. Hearing their stories I remembered thinking, “Wow, Andrea sounds awesome!”. Now from everything else I have been reading, I realize that she truly is!
My husband Tim played hockey with and against Andrea’s husband Mike for years. With Tim being from Sarnia, Onatrio and Mike from Chatham it was just a matter of time until the hockey in their blood led to them to crossing paths in hopes of reaching the same goal. Tim has said over and over the last week that “Mike is probably the nicest guy I have ever met. I can’t even begin to imagine what he is going through.” These hockey players have this way of showing their “Rough and Tough” exterior, yet I know personally that many of these men are the most loving and attentive husbands as well as gentle and tender fathers. If Mike is anything like my husband, playing hockey for a living may be a thing of the past, but the void has been replaced by so much more with the love of a wife and child. Something truly priceless!
Andrea’s brother Tyler is an inspiration beyond words! As I said above he has been keeping us up-to-date on her remarkable journey via his facebook page. He gives details to her recovery and shares stories from those whose lives she continues to touch.
Below is his update from today, Monday August 22nd at 1:55am titled “We Can Do This!”
My favorite worship song of all time is called “Freedom is Here” by Hillsong United. Believer or not, you’ll love this song. In honor of Andrea’s love for live music, please download the live version tonight, or this morning. Here are a few of the lyrics I’m listening to tonight as I write this…
“Everything comes alive in my life as I lift You higher,
Let our freedom arise in our lives as we lift You up,
Freedom is here, Freedom is here,
I will not fear, I will not hide your love.”
I sound just like Andrea anytime I hear this song as I say these words, “Turn it up, this is my favorite song!” (Thank you for the reminder, Jamie). It reminds me of my family’s spring break trips back in high school when we’d visit Panama City, FL. Throughout the trip, practically any song that came on just happened to be Andrea’s favorite song. For those that have ridden in a car…anywhere with Andrea…know what I am talking about. By the time we arrived in Florida, my sister had blown mom and dad out of the car with the virtual concert playing through the lousy speakers in our baby blue Chrysler mini-van. And for those of you who are car aficionados, I say yes. Yes, we had the faux wood paneling just in case someone wanted to enjoy a nice dinner at the dining table on the side of our tour bus. What a great time those vacations were. My family always had so much fun!
How about an update on Andrea? I’m so excited to share some good news with you tonight, because on your side of this experience we’re having, you’re probably still curious as to whether or not your prayers are working. If it’s been a while since you felt God has heard you, then this will hopefully serve as a clear reminder He is not only hearing you, He is answering you.
Tonight, Andrea was taken off the medicines that were responsible for controlling her ICP numbers. And they have stayed steady at 10-11. The Pentobarb is such a strong drug that it takes time for the body to flush it out of one’s system. So while these ICP numbers are encouraging, it will still be a few days before we know how her body is truly going to react to operating without any drug at all. How much more confident can a Neurosurgeon be? To have removed the drug altogether after 8 days is a victory that can only be made possible through God’s answer to our very specific prayers. Thank you again for creating those still moments when you seek God in this specific prayer. Her highest ICP today was 12 and there was a few minutes in her room with friends today when we all watched in amazement as it hovered at 5. Andrea’s temperature was 100.3 when I left tonight which has come down from 101. Oxygen has been steady at 98-100. Heart rate was 92. Blood pressure figure was at 74 and her cerebral profusion pressure was above 60 at all times throughout the day. Her pupils were dilating appropriately as they checked them today. As the nurse opened her eyes to check the pupils, it was the first time I’d been able to look into her eyes for some time. I felt like she was looking right into me. Her BIS climbed as high as 51 at one point. This is an indicator of how much brain activity is going on inside her mind. What a relief to know that once that number reaches 60-70, she’ll likely be able to show us some sign she is “there.” I already believe that she is, which is why I softly played 3 Sugarland songs for her tonight and read her more of your Facebook messages. I know she can hear us, and you, as I read your notes to her. You have made a difference in someone’s life today, and that person is my sister. Your wife, Mike. Your friend, Kendra, Hailey, Hillery and countless others. Your co-worker, Tom and Sara and others. Your cousin, Jeff, Jenny, Ashley and more. Your daughter, Mom and Dad. Your grandaughter, Grandma. Your daughter-in-law, John and Judy. Your hockey connection, Canadians, Texans, Californians, Ohioans, and South Carolinians…all of you. Everywhere. In Germany, Fiji, South Africa, Cambodia, and Ecuador. I’ve seen your Facebook messages and God has heard your prayers. You have made a difference. With you, she will win. It’s true in everything, we can’t win alone. And why would we choose to? Every victory I have ever had has always been better when celebrated having achieved it with others. Please read Matthew 18:18-20. “For where 2 or 3 gather in my name, I will be there with them.”
God’s promise is to heal His followers. In other words, His promise has already been made. I believe Andrea is healing. What we’re going through now is just a formality. But it’s also more than that. I think Andrea would be disappointed with us if we looked at this as just a formality. Wouldn’t she also want each of us to grow? Wouldn’t she want your marriage to be healed too? Wouldn’t she want you to forgive the person who you know you should forgive but haven’t gotten around to doing it? Who is that person? Why not call them? Isn’t the same forgiveness you’ve been given through Christ’s death on the cross the same forgiveness you should show someone who didn’t use their turn signal this morning on the way to run a few errands? Maybe the person who cheated on you in your marriage? Maybe who cut a corner at work to get “ahead” of you? Maybe you should leave tonight’s “Note” forgiven. Ask Him for it. Forgiveness should be what we do because it’s what Christ did for us. If it’s tough to forgive, let’s not focus on what that person has done to us. Let’s focus instead on what God’s done for us. One consistent thing that’s been shared in all of your messages to me is that “nothing negative could be said about Andrea.” Andrea lived her life looking for reasons to avoid having to be forgiven for something she’d done. I can’t think of a time when I felt like I needed an apology from her to feel better. Have you ever felt like you needed an apology from her? Right now, she’d tell us to forgive _______ if she could. Go ahead and do that tomorrow. Call that person whose been on your mind for a while. And watch what God does for them and for you.
A Message From a Friend of Andrea’s
“As you know I have always put Andrea up on a pedestal. I have always seen her as the world’s most perfect person / perfect friend. I always felt like I could talk to Andrea about anything and she would never judge. She was always trying to build me up, and make me feel like I was a better person. Even reading a recent email from her, she closed the email about telling me how lucky I was to have the life and family I have now. She always made me feel special, even when I didn’t fit in with her crowd, and after all these years, I still get that from her in a simple email. The smile on her face can change the mood in a room in a second.
I feel absolutely helpless as I am sure you do. I would switch places with her in a second if I could.
I have always looked up to you, I wanted to drive your car, I wanted to be funny like you, I wanted lots of friends like you, I wanted a good looking girlfriend like you had, I even “let” you throw me down the hallways at school. Last night after reading your note, I wish that you were my brother.
I know that Andrea does not have a mean bone in her body, but please tell her that now is this time to find it. It is time to get nasty and fight this. I am praying for all of you guys! Stay strong for her, she needs your positive energy!”
This is only one of so many more e-mails I wish I could share. I’ll try to share one a night.
Tonight, as you continue to pray for Andrea, please pray for Meagan’s family. Meagan is another young woman severely injured in the accident at the State Fair. Her room is 3 doors down from Dru. Her family is considering taking her off life support tomorrow at 12:00 noon. I’m not sure they have the same number of people praying for her as we do for Andrea. But you can fill in for them. Please do. Pray specifically for Meagan’s brain to show some sign of activity. God is capable of miracle moments and healing moments. They need a miracle moment. Stand in the gap for them. I keep having visions of my sister going into her room to tell her, “Keep fighting! Don’t you ever give up! Fight! Fight! We can do this.” Andrea would want to win…but not alone. She’d want to do it with Meagan…please pray.
All the Best,
1:31 a.m. 8/22/2011
1. Say a Prayer
2. Purchase a “FOR THE LOVE OF ANDREA” T-Shirt (coming soon!) HERE
Tees are being printed on (Andrea’s Favorite!) SUPER comfy, 50% cotton/50% poly, dark heather grey American Apparel Tees (Color: “Black heather”) in unisex adult sizes. Kids’ sizes will be available soon. ALL proceeds from T-Shirt sales go directly to Andrea and her family. We are working on the PayPal button – bear with us! Tees will be available 8/25!
Family and friends of Andrea Vellinga, a 30-year-old Pendleton woman injured in the accident, have also set up a fund to help her and her family with expenses.
The account was set up at First Merchants Bank and is called “Ovid Community Church for Andrea Voss Vellinga.” Checks can be sent to 793 East 600 South, Anderson, Indiana 46013, with “Vellinga” written on the envelope to contribute.
Donations can also be made at any First Merchants Bank branch.
“These monies will be used exclusively for the defrayal of family, household, and medical expenses for the Voss/Vellinga family.”
3. Take them a Meal
Username: vellinga family
How It Works . . .
A meal coordinator is able to create a customized online sign up sheet that makes it easy for friends and family to bring meals. In just a few minutes, phone numbers, driving directions, food allergies, and any other helpful details can be communicated to everyone involved.
Andrea, we are praying for you!!! You, Mike and Lydia will be a healthy happy family soon…. we all know this is not a quick race, but a marathon. We are all here for you through the ups and downs this journey will take you on and can’t wait to see you cross that finish line!!!
May God continue to Bless you Andrea and touch your body with his healing hands!!!