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Toni Smith

Toni Smith
Winchester , United States
CROWDRISING SINCE: Apr 02, 2016
Stuff About Me:

I was born with epilepsy in 1981, and had it until I was about 2 years old. I never had another seizure until I was 24. (I spent nearly a month in Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I was told by my local hospital (before I went to this exceptional facility), that I may never walk again, but guess what? I WALKED OUT!!!). Ever since, it's seemed like the whole world has been against me. I have been denied disability FOUR times: twice in NH, twice in VA. I've even been denied legal representation. One time, I was told that I had already “cost myself” my case, because I've worked (I hadn't had a seizure in 22 years...why wouldn't I have worked?). One time I was told that I had to be out of work for at least 6 months. One time I was told I had to be out of work for at least 12 months. (Who can afford to be out of work for 6 OR 12 months?!). The last time I went to a meeting with an attorney, after I explained my situation, he set his pen on his desk, crossed his arms, leaned back in his chair, and crossed his legs. He got quiet for at least a minute, looking like he was thinking, pointed at me, and told me, “If you can answer me ONE question, I'll represent you.” I said, “Alright.” He said, “Offices.” I asked him, “What about them?” He asked me why I couldn't handle an office/desk job, where I'd be sitting down all day, and asked me how this would be any different...then sitting around all day at home. I told him that it is REALLY different...because HOW would I be able to get there? He said, “Public transportation.” I asked him, “What would happen if I had a seizure on a bus, in a cab, on a train? Also, what is the likelihood...that the cab driver, someone on the bus or train, or someone at the office...would know how to handle someone having a seizure?” He apologized, and told me that he wouldn't be able to help me.

Then there's the other issues with having to work. Many applications nowadays (I've seen the question on at least 2 or 3 applications)...ask about existing medical conditions. If I ADMIT to epilepsy...I won't get the job (I documented it once, and kept calling to inquire...after about a month of calls, I was finally told that they wouldn't be able to hire me because I would be a liability). However, if I DON'T...admit to it...and I have one on the clock...I'd be terminated immediately for lying on the application. What do I do? The part that upsets me the most, is that I know someone on disability...for DEPRESSION. And I can't successfully get disability...for an illness that can take my life at ANY time. When I lived in Virginia, I had the best neurologist in the WORLD (in my opinion, because of how much she helped me out!). I was put in the hospital for a week for testing, because she said that it had been documented as 'temporal lobe' epilepsy by my previous neurologist (in NH). I asked about having my temporal lobe removed, and she told me that it was a HUGE step, and explained how important the temporal lobe was. My husband and I talked about it for a long time, and I never had it done. However...she scheduled another appointment for me at a later date, to explain the results of the testing...I was told that I actually had DUAL temporal lobe epilepsy. I asked her, “WHAT?!” She told me that this meant that there was seizure activity on BOTH sides of my brain, one side much more active then the other, but she couldn't remove the more active one, because I'd still have them. Needless to say, I still have seizures.

I have no support around me...so I'm on my own. For example, the last time I had a seizure? My husband asked me, “Did you take your pills?,” (instead of calling 911 or asking me if I was okay when I finally “came around”). I figured that I'm on my own, so I started my own little “project,” and I'm making SO much progress...that I'm REALLY starting to believe in it...but I need some help. Due to the lack of support, I can't even buy seeds to plant my own herbs and spices. I look at them in the store, and whoever I'm with will just walk off. One time I bought some fresh herbs and spices? I got in trouble when I got home for wasting money on something that I can get cheaper in a jar or bottle. I even have a contractor interested in my blends (dry blends, a few glazes, rubs, etc.). My husband and I moved from VA back to NH and took a $36k/year income cut (back in 2015)...because my grandfather was diagnosed legally blind in 2014...and nobody else in the family would do anything to help him...so we sold our house, quit our jobs...and moved back. I haven't been able to afford even ONE payment to the contractor since 2015 when we moved back. Luckily, he's REALLY understanding, and still calls once every two weeks to “check in” with me. Also, in December 2015, he made me aware of an annual discount...though the discount isn't always the same. I asked him about another deal, and he asked me, “Yes?” I told him that I would do my best to save as much as I could...to pay as much of it as I could by December 2016...as long as I make no payments between now and then. He asked me how I could pay as much as I could...without making payments. I told him that I would save it up...and when he made me aware of the annual discount, I would make a payment of whatever I'd saved up. I told him that I didn't want to pay anything before then, because if I had “knocked down” my outstanding balance pretty well...I could lose at least a few hundred dollars in discounts, so I would have to save up even more money. I told him that I wanted as much of a discount as I could get, because then I could save less money and still pay him off...he told me, “Makes sense,” and agreed to this. NOW...I just need the money to pay the contractor off, and to get the fresh herbs and spices (plants and/or seeds) so I can create all the blends for submission (for myself (around the house, since I have no support), I simply wash and re-use spice jars (remove the labels and write the blend name on them)...and create the blends from the purchased herbs and spices (in the spice aisle in the store). If I'm going to succeed...I can't submit store-bought herbs and spices.

Like I said, I've been working on it a lot. How much? Well, I've got (about) 1 page of rubs, (about) ½ page of glazes, (about) ½ page of liquid blends, (about) a ½ page of sauces, and 14 PAGES...of dry blends (so a little over 15 pages total!)! How hard have I been working? Well, let's just say that I've tried to “pull people in.” How? Well, my family call them my “guinea pigs” (due to their lack of support)...but I realized that they've been the biggest motivators. How? I'll give you one example. I told a lady I used to work with about it (before I moved back home to help my grandfather). She said she'd do whatever she could to help me out. So...I got out of work, went home, and got right to work. I created a questionnaire for her (for each person willing to help me in the future), and an agreement. One of the questions, is, “If you saw this blend available in stores...how much would you pay for it?” This one woman put down, “$20.” (This was a small jar...maybe twice the size of a bottle of pumpkin pie spice). The next time I saw her, I asked her, “Seriously?” She asked me, “What?,” and I told her that she didn't have to list really expensive amounts to try and boost my esteem.” She just smiled. About a week later we got paid. The day after? She was off, but I worked, and I saw an envelope out in the break room. I opened it? There was a note (“I told you I was serious!”), and a $20 bill! She wanted another bottle! The agreement? I wrote up something everyone has to sign...saying that they agree to try a blend, just “going on” the name of it, not being told any of the ingredients, because then they could make it themselves. It also said that they were agreeing that they (or anyone in their household) had any known food allergies (for the same reason)...and that if they did, they could list the allergies at the bottom of the page (and I wouldn't give them any blends with this/these ingredient(s) in them). Lastly, to “cover my butt”...I also said they couldn't file a lawsuit against me for giving them something that made them aware of a food allergy that they were previously unaware of. Trust me, I've “covered all the bases.”

Could any of my seasonings...be bought by McCormick? Be used in restaurants with Michelin stars? What about in Hell's Kitchen?My opportunities are endless...but your faith in me...is all I have to ever find out. Help me to raise money to pay off my contractor...and we'll see how soon I can get my products on store shelves for your enjoyment! This “project” will help me be able to afford both my seizure medications and co-pays/deductibles more easily (after I get the contractor paid off). It will help me pay the mortgage, get a newer (safer) car for my husband (spent over $1,000 on it since last year, not including “routine maintenance”), catch up on bills, and to make my dream..of being a healthy, strong, independent woman...come true.

Toni
Smith

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750

Total Impact Points

Toni Smith's Fundraisers

Spices for Epilepsy

Spices for Epilepsy

Amount Raised:

$0

 

0% Raised of $100,000 Goal