Auger & Auger is proud to announce that Rachel Blevins is one of the recipients of our Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award, worth $1,000 each. These scholarships are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America who have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and their community.
Rachel was born with a rare disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). This condition causes her skin to be very fragile; even the slightest trauma can cause blisters. During one such blistering episode as a newborn, the surface of Rachel’s eyes were damaged. As a result, she is visually impaired due to corneal scarring. Before she even reached kindergarten, she had 10 reconstructive surgeries to improve her mobility.
Yet, Rachel refuses to use these hardships as a tool to elicit sympathy from those around her. Rather, she reflects on these challenges to see the struggles she’s already overcome and how those experiences shape her goals. She’s always been a science-minded student. In elementary school, she won first place in state science fairs two years in a row.
Now, she plans to pursue a degree in psychology at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Though earning this degree will be a difficult venture, Rachel lives by the mantra that, “Quitters never win and winners never quit!” This ideal was instilled in her as a child by her parents, who Rachel says have been the most inspirational people in her life.
“My parents have always encouraged me to do my best and compete with my peers,” she says. Their faith in God has inspired me as well, I feel my life has a greater purpose and that God has a plan for me.”
Rachel says she’s also grateful for the doctors, therapists, teachers and others who have helped her succeed in life. It’s these people that have inspired her to get her degree in psychology, then pursue her master’s degree in counseling with a minor in American Sign Language. After she earns her degrees, she wants to work with vision-impaired students at a school like the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh.
Though Rachel has pushed through great adversity in her life, she has seen how her disability has affected how she’s viewed by society. But, she says, that view from society has shown her who her true friends are. Her relationships mean everything to her. She does hope, however, that our society as a whole can look on disabilities with kinder eyes.
“Those of us with disabilities are constantly judged, and first impressions are made based on our bandages, damaged skin, etc.,” she says. “If society could look beyond our disability, whatever it is, and see that we are just ordinary people, overcoming extraordinary obstacles to be contributing members of society, the world would be a better place.”
Auger & Auger is proud to announce that Alexa Jo Palmer is one of the recipients of our Fall Semester Disabled Scholar Award, worth $1,000 each. The scholarship awards are presented twice a year to high-achieving students across America that have overcome their disability and achieved excellence in both the classroom and their community.
When she was 16, Alexa Jo was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and ulcers in the large intestine. Though the cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, Alexa Jo noticed her symptoms always seemed to flare up when she was stressed out — and as a high schooler, that was all the time.
It took Alexa Jo a year to become comfortable with herself and the disease, which at first was embarrassing for a 16-year-old high school student. Along with the pain she was experiencing, the steroid treatment caused her to put on excessive weight. All of these issues combined were enough to crush the spirits of any teenage girl.
But not Alexa Jo.
She attended a one-week overnight summer camp for kids with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. There, surrounded by others her age facing the same challenges, she learned to be comfortable with herself. When she returned to school for her senior year, she was more confident, and was able to joke about her disease. Since then, she has taken great strides to raise money and awareness for finding a cure.
In 2016, she participated in Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis, raising over $6,000. She also raised awareness on a local radio station, and is very active in the Crohn’s/colitis community. For her efforts, she was honored by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
Before being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, Alexa Jo wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. Now, her path is clear: pediatrics. For now, she is attending Widener University in Pennsylvania and majoring in nursing. She’s still undecided on whether or not to continue her education to become a pediatric surgeon.
Through all of her struggles, Alexa Jo says her parents have been the most influential people in her life. She says they always told her she could do whatever she wanted in life, and that she was capable of doing anything if she put my mind to it — even after her diagnosis.
Though ulcerative colitis is a disease many aren’t familiar with, Alexa Jo says she hopes our society gains a greater understanding of it. It’s an invisible disease; though she may not look sick, she suffers from the disease every day.
“Some days I can be in pain and you might not even know it,” she says.
More than anything, Alexa Jo lives her life by the mantra, “Be the change you wish to see in the world. She believe that if you believe so passionately about changing something, then you should stop waiting for someone else and do it. And ulcerative colitis isn’t going to stop her from making the world a better place.
Since she was a child, Francesca (Frankie) knew her life would not be as easy as that of her peers. Growing up, she would ask her mother questions like, “Why can’t I tie my shoes like everyone else, Mom?” “Why doesn’t my hand do what I want it to?” “Why can’t I see what everyone else sees?”
Her mother’s answer? “You’re special babygirl.”
And Frankie is a special young woman. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, compounded with vision loss. This made even simple tasks much more difficult. Yet, Frankie never let her disabilities keep her down. Her biggest struggle growing up with cerebral palsy and a vision impairment was accepting that there are obstacles that her body cannot conquer.
Yet, she overcame her disability by learning that, even though she cannot do some things she is faced with, she can do so many other things. She knew she would likely never excel in activities like sports, so instead she focused on what she was good at: her academics. Yet, even though she graduated in the top ten percent of her class, she knew there was more to her identity than just being smart.
In high school, Frankie was invited to participate in the Youth Leadership Foundation Camp in Sacramento for teen leaders with disabilities. It was there she finally found people to whom she felt connected. It was there she learned that all people have their unique challenges and abilities — it is how we deal with what we are given that makes a person great. She knew from that moment that she wanted to leave an imprint on the world.
She found a way to live out her life’s mission when she was introduced to a volunteer organization called EQUU8, which uses horsemanship and horseback riding as a form of therapy for children with disabilities. For the first time in her life, Frankie was working with a therapist — but wasn’t the patient. Her experience with EQUU8 helped Frankie decide what she wanted to do with her life.
Now, Frankie is a student at Western Oregon University, working toward her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in special education. After she earns her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in the same field with the ultimate goal of becoming a therapist for children with disabilities. In addition, she plans to create a support group for children and teenagers with disabilities.
Frankie believes that society can be more accommodating to disabilities by being more aware of the issues, and being more open to asking questions. She lives by one mantra: I can do anything until proven otherwise. She gives every experience a shot, and she is not willing to let her disability define her. She likes to work hard and surprise people with the results.
Though accomplishing this goal can be difficult, Frankie relies on her mother for support. She showed Frankie what it is truly like to be strong. Her mother had some medical problems different than Frankie’s, but with that experience her mother showed showed her to not not let her take the easy way out. She pushed Frankie to always be the best version of herself through whatever challenge she faces throughout life.
With her mission before her, Frankie looks to make the world a better place in whatever way she can, in spite of — and, to some degree, thanks to — her disability.
Learn more about the Auger & Auger Disabled Scholar Award here.
A man in Denver, North Carolina was shopping with a friend in a local Lowe’s gardening center to surprise his wife with new flowers for their landscaping. While he was shopping, he was bitten by a 3 foot long poisonous copperhead snake while reaching to pick up a plant. He suffered from extensive swelling and was rushed to the hospital. His wife had to miss work to be by his side.
He was transferred to ICU the intensive care unit when the swelling in his arm was stopping blood flow to his fingers and had traveled down his right side to his hips, lower back and abdomen. He is being treated with anti-venom and is currently on three pain medications.
The victim has hired Auger & Auger to represent him. It is the law firm’s contention that Lowe’s Home Improvement, its managers, employees and/or suppliers were negligent, careless and reckless in failing to implement and/or carry out reasonable safeguards and processes to prevent this kind of injury.
Attorney Herb Auger said his firm is investigating two issues. One, did Lowe’s have a plan or process implemented to inspect plants at the time of delivery? It would seem reasonable for any retailer to have a process in place for inspecting products for defects upon delivery from a third party vendor.
Inspecting not only for dead, diseased or damaged plants, which would be in their own financial interest, but also having a plan for inspecting for foreseeable dangers to their customers with the infestation of venomous snakes being their number one concern. If they did, the 3 foot snake should have been spotted.
Second, Lowe’s has snake repellants on its shelves for sale to the public. Why would they not use this in their own facilities?
You can learn more about the incident here.
About Auger & Auger:
For over 26 years, Auger & Auger have been providing top quality representation for victims of personal injury in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina. Since 1995, the firm has won over $50 million for our clients in a wide range of case types, including: car accidents, dangerous drugs, golf cart accidents, workers’ compensation and many others.
Auger & Auger has offices in five locations throughout North Carolina. They provide free consultations to prospective clients and Auger & Auger will never charge a legal fee unless they win.
Here at Auger & Auger Law, we enjoy charitable giving. Although we are proud supporters of MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, each of our staff members have organizations or causes that are near and dear to their hearts. We know that members of our readership may want to give of themselves but don’t know where to start or even where to locate a charity that they would be happy to support. On that note, here is a list of some prominent charities in North Carolina that are always accepting donations in the way of money, goods or time.
People fall on hard times and feeding their families should never have to be a concern. Food banks around the country work to ensure that people always have something to eat.
This charity is perfect for anyone who wants to support children. The Partnership has a variety of programs that are designed to ensure that kids get a healthy start to life and maintain that health. There are also educational initiatives designed to help children enjoy success at school.
3. Easter Seals UCP North Carolina
Easter Seals is a charity that works with the focus of helping children and adults with disabilities gain a greater sense of independence within the community. There are a variety of programs designed with the needs of people with disabilities in mind.
The NCC works to deliver relief from cancer and other chronic diseases throughout the state and around the globe. Anyone who has been touched by cancer should be proud to support this charity.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a fantastic organization with chapters across the country. The group holds meetings and has educational opportunities for members of the public. We are always happy to give to this group, and we are happy to tell others how they can give as well.
Giving to any one of the many charities in North Carolina can be worthwhile. If you would like more information about any of these charities, please visit their websites. If you would like more information about Auger & Auger, you can browse our site at your leisure and, as always, if you need assistance, give us a call.
It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon in June, 1998. Five year old Christina McCarthy was riding in the car with her mother and younger sister when the vehicle went out of control and hydroplaned into a ditch. Many of us cannot turn to one singular, life-changing event, but this was the day that Christina’s life was immeasurably altered.
The accident left her with a collapsed lung, a fractured skull, and a severed spine; injuries which left her wheelchair-bound and subject to numerous surgeries over the past 17 years. Now, at 22, in spite of everything she has had to face and overcome, Christina’s outlook on life continues to be radiant. She perseveres in spite of the odds and is currently attending college.
“As a personal injury law firm, our attorneys frequently represent families who are coping with the aftermath of serious injuries and disabling impairments. We observe firsthand the unique challenges that disabled men and women face and see the strength and perseverance necessary to overcome expectations,” says firm founding partner, Herb Auger.
As part of the firm’s efforts to give back to the disabled community, Auger & Auger is sponsoring a $1,000 scholarship, given twice a year, to assist with tuition and expenses at a qualifying undergraduate institution.
Christina admits paying for college has “…been a bit of an issue,” but has resolved that, “No matter what life throws at me, whatever loops and turns I am forced to endure, and no matter how long it takes, I will accomplish my goal.” She is currently pursuing a psychology degree and plans to work in a rehabilitation hospital with others who have spinal injuries. She believes that her unique situation will forge a bond with those intends to serve.
“Not often do you come across a young person with the type of determination and resolve Christina exhibits,” says firm founding partner, Herb Auger. “She embodies the spirit with which this scholarship was created.”
Attributing her resilience to her family and friends who, she says, have gone above and beyond anything she could have expected when it comes to their support for her, she also ascertains, “I am very capable and determined to work hard and become the best person for the job. Bring it on.”
When asked what words of encouragement she would give a child faced with the same circumstances as she was, her advice is to “Love yourself and believe in yourself. Life does get better.”
With the help of the Auger and Auger Disabled Scholar Award, Christina is one step closer to her intended goal. Her outlook is beyond inspirational. You can sense the fire that drives her to continue to face what others may find insurmountable. As she moves forward with passion and embraces her personal mantra – “Put on a smile, and everything will be alright” – we congratulate Christina on her scholarship win and look forward to seeing her achieve continued greatness.