Written on May 06, 2020
Both burn survivors, Carrie and Joe met at the 2007 Phoenix World Burn Congress in Vancouver, BC. What started out as a friendship, later turned into something much more. The couple got engaged five years later in 2012 in the city where their relationship began. Today, Carrie and Joe have a 5-year-old daughter, enjoy traveling all over the United States to visit all of the friends they’ve made through Phoenix Society, and have made the decision to leave a legacy by including Phoenix Society in their estate plans.
When Carrie was 15 months old, she endured a significant burn after reaching for a cup of coffee on the counter at her daycare center. The coffee spilled, causing burns to her lips, chin, and chest. Joe sustained burns as an adult while attending a concert at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Following the tragic fire, Joe spent 50 weeks in the hospital and has had over 122 surgeries. Prior to a major surgery, a hand transplant, Carrie and Joe decided they wanted to update their will to include a provision to support Phoenix Society. They are now included as members of the Breslau Society, offering a way for Phoenix Society to acknowledge their generous planned gift, while also inspiring others. Carrie says it was an easy decision to give back to an organization that has given so much to them. Joe hopes that by including Phoenix Society in their estate plans it will help others “find the will to fight.”
With the gift to Phoenix Society, Carrie hopes to see two things happen. First, for Phoenix WBC to be held in new cities in order to reach new people. Secondly, for more education in the community, especially in schools and fire stations, in order to bring more awareness of Phoenix Society and the resources it offers. Through these resources, more survivors can find connections and needed support from one another.
For those who cannot attend in-person events such as Phoenix WBC, the existence of virtual support groups is a critical resource to help burn survivors make personal connections. Carrie says the virtual caregiver support group has been a positive resource, not only for her, but also for her mother who still struggles with the “what if’s” even years after Carrie’s burn incident. Carrie says she doesn’t live her life considering the “what if’s” … rather she says, “if my burn wouldn’t have happened, I never would’ve met my husband.”
Phoenix Society’s virtual support groups provide a safe and supportive space for burn survivors to talk to one another, share experiences, and relieve isolation. These support groups also provide assistance when reintegrating into “normal life” after a burn. One example of this is resources focused on helping young people go back to school. Carrie described the Journey Back school re-entry program as a “God send” when she was helping a teenager transition back to school after a burn injury. Utilizing both in-person and virtual programs, Carrie and Joe know what a difference this support can make in people’s lives as they journey through their healing.
When considering one’s legacy, Joe hopes to be remembered as “tenacious,” meaning nothing and no one stood in his way. Carrie and Joe’s gracious decision to include Phoenix Society in their estate plan will assist Phoenix Society in continuing to advance programming and ensure that current and future burn survivors have what they need, when they need it, for years to come. It is our hope that through the Phoenix Society one can, just like Joe, live tenaciously.