When she found out about a benefit barbecue to help raise money for a new car for her family, Monica Wilson of Grover Beach cried.
Wilson is the mother of 14-year-old Shea Wilson, who was diagnosed at age 11 with pediatric multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis damages the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and can result in loss of eyesight, difficulty moving and speaking and chronic pain, among other symptoms. While it is more common in adults, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates that between 8,000 and 10,000 children in the United States have MS, and an additional 10,000 to 15,000 have experienced at least one symptom suggestive of MS.
There is no cure for MS, which means Shea will live with it for the rest of his life, Wilson said. Shea also was recently diagnosed with adolescent rheumatoid arthritis and depression and is being treated by specialists at Stanford, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara and other doctors across the state.
"I feel like I'm drowning sometimes, with all the work we have to do and what Shea needs," Wilson said through tears. "I'm a single mom, and sometimes it is just a lot."
Between traveling to doctors appointments across the state and keeping track of his treatments — at one point, he was taking about 23 pills a day — caring for Shea can be a full-time job, Wilson said. Because of that, Wilson said she struggled to keep a traditional 9-to-5 job and has since taken to juggling several odd jobs, like selling jewelry and accessories out of her house through her "Rumor Has It" business.
"I do what I can," she said.
Wilson also has had trouble with her car. A 1991 Volvo station wagon, the car often won't start and has forced her to rent a vehicle whenever she and Shea need to go to an appointment and the Volvo won't work.
Wilson's daughter, Amanda Langan, and her best friend, Stacy Krelle, have organized a benefit barbecue for the Wilsons, to be held at Oak Park Christian Church in Grover Beach on Saturday, to help raise funds for a new car for the family. The barbecue will feature a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses.
Wilson has also set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/Findinghope4shea to help raise money for Shea's treatment and the car. To date, the crowdfunding campaign has raised $1,020.
"We've just had a beautiful response from the community," Wilson said. "It's just been amazing."
If you go
The benefit barbecue for Shea Wilson will be held at Oak Park Christian Church, 386 N. Oak Park Boulevard, Grover Beach, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Food tickets are available prior to the barbecue for $10. For information, contact Stacy Krelle at 805-406-3210.