As many of you know, the Central Carolina Jaycees are having a Second Chance Prom to benefit the Sweet Melissa Fund. The Fund was started by the Dirr family in 2005 to honor the memory of Melissa Alexander, a vibrant young woman who lost her battle with cystic fibrosis during her lung transplant surgery.
Sadly, Susy Dirr lost her battle on January 24 at 31 years old. Susy was a beacon of light in her short life. Her touching obituary said it all:
She embraced life with joy and love and made the people and the world around her a better place. She charged ahead, unafraid, defying the odds that genetics would keep her down. Valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, UGA graduate, traveler extraordinaire — to France, England, Scotland and Wales and one glorious summer studying in Italy.
When her disease took its toll, she underwent a double lung transplant at the University of North Carolina Hospital in Chapel Hill. When a few years later, rejection sent her through another transplant, she faced it with the same positive attitude. Nothing was easy but she felt life was worth the risk.
Chapel Hill became her home and ours as she bounded through three and a half years of wonderful breathing, more traveling and embracing her job with the UNC Athletic Department. She tutored student athletes, mostly football players who learned to love her. When she couldn’t climb the steps in front of the classroom building, they carried her.
There is not a person she knew, from her Georgia childhood friends, her family, her Chapel Hill friends and transplant community, who didn’t love and admire her brilliance, creativity, biting wit, compassion and glowing soul.
When a star shines so bright, the light left behind never dies.
This is extremely difficult news for those, like my sister Ashlee, who knew Susy as a mentor for how to live an exciting and fulfilling life despite having Cystic Fibrosis and having had double-lung transplants.
However, this tragedy has bolstered my desire to make a significant donation to the Sweet Melissa Fund after the Second Chance Prom. I know I speak for all the Jaycees when I say that we want to help the Fund continue sharing Susy’s mission to help all those who need it.
If you’d like to make a direct contribution to The Sweet Melissa Fund for transplant families, you can attend the Prom or send your donation to UNC Hospital c/o Becky Cicale, Lung Transplant Coordinator, 111 Hogan Ridge Court, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
~Kelly, 2008 CCJC Secretary