I felt a need to visit a former student, Amy Lawson, who is fighting many health challenges. Without knowing, it was a great day to visit because she was celebrating her 32nd birthday.

Amy entered this world with a rare kidney disease, hyperoxaluria or oxalosis, one that offered little hope of survival. She and her family spent three years at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, often supporting other families in similar situations. During their stay, there was much moral and financial support from families in and around Columbus, acts of generosity that the family will always remember.

Her dad, Mike, gave her one of his kidneys, but the disease destroyed it too. Then, his wife, Janice, selflessly gave hers which functioned until recently when the disease returned. Before sharing what is going on with Amy today, let's go back in time.

Amy was in my fifth grade homeroom and had a special spirit that endeared her to all of us. During Thanksgiving, I asked students to do something on a plate to express what they were thankful for in their lives. I kept Amy's plate on the bulletin board until retiring and then put it in a binder. She drew herself and the sunshine with the following words: "I'm thankful to God for my life."

As a student, Amy had to deal with hearing and vision problems which the disease had caused. During fifth grade, she ended up back at Mayo with kidney issues again. With faith, determination, and care from her doctors and family, she fought through yet another battle.

After graduating from Hauser, Amy started a daycare in her parents' home. I was fortunate enough to watch a DVD she made of those days. In watching it, there was an obvious connection between Amy and her kids.

In time, she fell in love and married Matt Steward. They are proud parents of a two-year-old, Josh. A smile quickly appears on Amy's face whenever his name is mentioned.

Well over a year now, blood flow to her legs decreased which resulted in both of her feet being amputated and her kidney ceasing to function. I visited Amy after the operation. Close to her side, she had a Bible. As I was trying to find the right words, she looked into my eyes and said, "Mr. Webster, I am going to be all right."

While walking out of the hospital, I cried. Amy had once again touched me. As she walked on her knees to greet me on my most recent visit, I thought about a previous visit when Amy was in a wheelchair. Josh was running around when Amy said, "I can't wait to be on the floor with my son."

Well, Amy persisted in getting to that point. Her next goal is to be fitted with "new feet" so that she can walk with Josh and Matt. However, she is dealing with another setback. The doctors will soon be removing her lower right leg due to a deteriorating bone.

The family is being told there will eventually need to be a kidney and liver transplant. Each day, Amy's mom, a nurse, does dialysis in their home for three hours. But Amy, Amy just keeps on going and lives optimistically. In the meantime, people around her, like me, understand how fortunate we are to have her in our lives. I keep on thinking about that plate Amy made when in fifth grade and how I am often reminded of the valuable lessons I learned from her then and continue to learn.