by Patricia Muhammad
LANSING, Ill. (March 10, 2018) – A display of love and support from Lansing business leaders and residents was recently demonstrated to Elizabeth Avila and her husband after the couple’s three-year-old daughter Teci sustained a significant brain injury that left her unable to speak or use her hands.
Beggars Pizza owner Larry Garetto, his family, and staff reached out to the Avilas by hosting a “Super Teci” benefit on February 22 at the Ridge Road pizzeria. The Avilas have worked at Beggars for more than a decade. Thanking Garetto and his staff for their support, Mrs. Avila said, “They have been financially supportive from day one, along with their prayers.”
Mrs. Avila commented that the benefit was a huge success, filled with friends and supporters. Other community support included the Lansing Police Department, the Lansing Fire Department, local business leaders, and community residents.
“It was amazing. I don’t know exactly how many people were there, but it was anywhere from 300–400 people that showed up that night. We raised enough money from the fundraiser to buy Teci a home oxygen chamber through Dr. Paul Harch’s clinic (in New Orleans). That way, we can continue her treatments at home instead of going to New Orleans every three months.”
Mrs. Avila also expressed thanks to her family who stood by her side during trying times: “On behalf of my family, and especially Teci, I would like to give a big thanks to my family. You’ve supported us from the very beginning and we appreciate you guys so much.”
“I would like to thank the Donson Machine (Alsip), because they have been a huge financial support as well as their prayers,” she added.
On Tuesday, July 18, 2017, Avila received a disturbing call about her daughter Teresa, affectionately known as “Teci” (pronounced “Tessie”). “I get a call that Teci had choked on a grape. When we arrived home, she was unconscious, and during that time she went into cardiac arrest. She was without oxygen for about 19 minutes, so that caused severe damage to her brain,” explained Avila.
Paramedics arrived on the scene to revive Teci, and she was rushed to a nearby hospital, where an intensive battle to save her life began. The three-year-old was placed on invasive ventilators (life support).
“She was on life support for about eight weeks, and she’s now without any (life) support. She’s here, which is a miracle within itself,” Avila said. “She’s smiling and starting to use her voice. She hasn’t said any words, but she is reacting to my husband tickling her. Teci eats baby food, and she holds her eyes so much more and uses her hands.”
Learning to breathe again
On October 17, Teci and her family visited Dr. Paul Harch’s Hyperbarics Clinic in New Orleans where she underwent intensive hyperbaric oxygen treatment to learn to breathe on her own. Harch is a specialist who offers treatments in hyperbaric oxygen therapy for traumatic brain injury and neurological disorders.
“We took her to New Orleans, back and forth, for almost three months to get hyperbaric oxygen under Dr. Harch’s care. She basically had to be approved to go there, and she was accepted. On October 24, she received her first treatment. During the three months there, she received more than 40 treatments and two surgeries,” Avila said.
“There were so many people that came out to support us. We didn’t know they had created a Facebook Page for her called Super Teci. On that page, you can view videos, pictures, and updates. There is also a GoFundMe page to fund her treatment.”
Mrs. Avila has since retired from Beggars to care for her daughter. She commented on the outpouring of Lansing support: “We didn’t realize how wonderful the Lansing community was until this unfortunate thing happened. The community has been so supportive. We want to thank the whole Lansing community and everyone who has been praying for her and donated funds; especially my Beggars Pizza family. Teci’s amazing and she has improved so much already.”