TYRONE - For April Sharer of Tyrone, a 44-cent postage stamp is priceless.
Sharer's 13-year-old daughter, Amber Dougherty, was diagnosed with Severe Intractable Epilepsy when she was 16 months old. On Christmas Eve, Amber's doctors had a meeting with Sharer and told her there was nothing more they could do.
Amber probably won't live until Christmas, Sharer said, but the one bright spot in her daughter's day is when the mail arrives. At 13, Amber has the brain-function level of a kindergartener.
Amber Dougherty, 13, of Tyrone was diagnosed with Severe Intractable Epilepsy when she was 16 months old. (Courtesy photo)
"I go and get the mail, and she says, 'Did I get anything?'" Sharer said. "And then when I open up the cards, just the smile on her face - she's on 30-some medications for everything - is worth a million bucks."
Family friends Barb and Jonnie Gummo have organized a card drive for Amber on Facebook. So far, Amber has received cards from Africa, Australia, Egypt, Afghanistan and throughout the U.S. To join the Facebook group, search for Card Drive for Amber on the Web site.
"It doesn't matter if you're two houses down," Sharer said. "She gets so excited. She can't read, but I read them to her, and she just loves it. The smile on her face is incredible."
If you go
What: Benefit 4 Amber dance
When: 9 p.m. to midnight Jan. 30
Where: American Legion, Tyrone
Donations:?Cards for Amber, gift cards and prizes for a raffle will be accepted at the door
Barb Gummo said she knew the family because Amber is in her son's class at school. She received an e-mail forwarded from Amber's aunt about the card drive and told her daughter, Jonnie, who created the Facebook group.
"It tugged at my heart strings," Barb Gummo said. "I felt like we needed to do whatever we can."
Severe Intractable Epilepsy, Sharer said, is a congenital brain disorder. Sharer said she's been told the condition would have occurred when she was about two months pregnant with Amber. Heterotopias - which Sharer compared to "freckles" - develop on the brain and cause Amber to have severe seizures.
Amber's pediatrician, Dr. Donald Bulger, could not be reached for comment.
The seizures are so bad that Amber's doctors "put her in a coma on life support. They shut the brain down and make her clinically brain dead to stop the seizures," Sharer said. The clinically induced comas last about two weeks, Sharer said.
One of the medications Amber takes makes her forget things, Sharer said.
"We save them all," Sharer said of the cards Amber has received. "She goes through the cards, like, everyday."
Cards for Amber may be sent to her at 2766 Bald Eagle Pike, Tyrone PA 16686. Only cards should be sent, Sharer said; the family is not accepting money or gifts.