HEALTH

Stephanie Smith raises money on crowd-funding site for paralyzed sister

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJLA) - After battling cancer for six years and beating it twice, 29-year-old Melissa Smith thought she might finally catch a break.

"I was really excited that I beat cancer... I just felt like I could do anything," she says.

But then last year, she was hit with a new challenge: a rare, neurological disorder called Transverse Myelitis, which affects the spine.

"I'm totally paralyzed from here down," she explains. "I can't feel anything."

Doctors do not know exactly what caused her illness, and they can’t predict how it will progress. And now Smith is currently confined to her wheelchair, unable to do simple things for herself.

What she wants most is some independence -- but there are certain things she will need in order to achieve that independence.

"She needs to have an accessible house," says her sister Stephanie. "Everything has to change,doors have to be widened, counter tops have to be lowered..."

A family friend suggested they try to raise $50,000 for a down payment using the blog, theChive, which highlights unusual stories, as well as the crowd-funding site, “Go Fund Me.”

So Stephanie launched the “Hope for a Home” campaign.

And 48 hours later, donors from around the world had contributed seven times that much – which will likely be enough to buy Melissa a functional home, a better wheelchair, and specially-fitted car.

"I'm completely blown away by it," says Smith. "I had no idea it would have such an impact."

"Thank you just seems not enough -- I intend fully to be paying this forward for the rest of my life."

To visit or donate to "Hope for a Home," click here.

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