About 250 people packed downtown venue Blind Tiger Sunday night for a benefit concert that raised just over $9,000 for Grace Fisher, the 17-year-old girl who was diagnosed in December with a rare, paralyzing illness called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM). Spirits were high as TV news reporter John Palminteri hosted the event, and several high school bands, including State of Grace, which is made up of members of Fisher’s old band, performed throughout the evening.
Family friend Paul Corr told the crowd Fisher is doing well at a rehabilitation hospital in Denver. She is able to talk in words and short phrases a little more each day — a huge improvement from the recent past when she communicated with her parents just by blinking. Last week, she was able to spend some time outside. Over the weekend, her family and a good friend went to visit her for Valentine’s Day. And on Monday, she was able to get on an exercise bike.
Exactly eight weeks ago, Fisher was suddenly struck with the severely paralyzing, mysterious illness. She was the 101st person to be diagnosed with AFM; doctors are still unsure of its culprit. One Sunday in December, as she prepared to celebrate her belated birthday, Fisher felt numbness in her hands and a pain in her neck. By the time she arrived at the hospital a short time later, her waist was so numb she needed to be transported inside by wheelchair.
Letters and photos continue to flood her room in Denver. Her parents, Debbie and Bill, and her younger sister, Emily, are with her every day. Corr encouraged friends and community members to think of creative ways to raise money to cover mounting medical bills, not all of which are covered by insurance.