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Caring community lifts her spirits

Doctors say Missy Morris of Deltaville is a picture of health on the outside, but, her appearance hides a failing heart. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

Deltaville woman
prays for a heart

by Tom Chillemi

The spirit of Christmas lives in all seasons.

The power of faith, prayer and community has reigned throughout the year as area residents worked together to help Melissa “Missy” Morris of Deltaville, who is waiting for a heart transplant.

Her story is one of cancer when she was 21 years old, and a heart attack at the age 35. But from these tragedies there is a strong woman who has remained positive, even when the odds are against her.

Eleven years ago, Morris survived a heart attack where her blood pressure dropped to 48 over 24. She was clinically dead. Now wearing a pacemaker, her heart stopped briefly last Friday night, but started beating again.

Missy has known for years her only chance is a heart transplant.

In November, her husband Chuck lost his job of 21 years at Reynolds Metals. Their vehicle was repossessed.

But in their darkest hour, good-hearted people have come to the aid of Missy, Chuck and their two children. Kristee and Darren Norwood gave the Morris family its used truck.
Faith and prayer has sustained Missy and lifted her spirits. “The support has helped me to stay positive and strong,” said Missy last week. “I need that right now to get through this. Sometimes I break down and cry, but then someone reminds me of how strong I’ve been through this, and how much they admire me for being such a positive and strong woman.

“That gets me back on the right track. My faith in God and prayers will keep me strong, and the support of my friends, family and the community will get me through this.”
“Waiting for a heart”

Missy’s situation has become more precarious. “She has inched up the transplant list but is physically losing ground,” said Pastor John Snow of Zoar Baptist Church. “We have been praying that somehow there will be a heart available.”

To raise funds for Missy, members of Zoar Baptist Church put together a very successful car show and silent auction with items donated by businesses, which was combined with a musical show with the help of the Church of Abraham in Gloucester. “The way it came together was amazing,” said Pastor Snow. “It exceeded everybody’s expectations.”

Patricia Prince and her husband Wayne Hudgins coordinated the car show that attracted more than 50 vehicles. “With all the bad in the world a lot of people dwell on that, but this (fundraiser) shows there still are a lot of good people in this world,” said Prince.

Pastor Snow said that Missy wanted to share some of the money with others who had a need as well.

“I thank God every day that I can get up and look at sunshine.” — Missy Morris
“I’m so grateful for everything everybody has done,” Missy said. “The prayers are non-stop. Zoar has made me part of the family. They feel my pain and know what I’m going through. They lift me up when I get down.”

That community spirit has expanded into the Deltaville community and beyond. There have been numerous fund-raising events held to offset Missy’s medical expenses.

“You just want to help someone like Missy,” said Cheryl Teagle of Hartfield, who helped organize a fund-raising spaghetti dinner at Philippi Christian Church in Deltaville. “She has such a positive outlook. We all think we have issues, but we really don’t, not compared to Missy who is literally waiting for a heart.”

The outpouring of help is a benefit of living in a close-knit community, said Pastor Eric Vaudt of Clarksbury United Methodist Church of Hardyville. “Small communities rally around one another when there’s a need.”

Clarksbury held a fish fry fundraiser for Missy.

This summer a donkey baseball game was held in Deltaville and all the proceeds went to Missy. It was a combined effort of the Hartfield Volunteer Fire Department and the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department (LMVFD) of Deltaville. “We felt like she needed the money the most,” said Jimmy Walden, an officer with the LMVFD, where Chuck Morris is secretary.

“Chuck has been my number one nurse,” said Missy. “He’s been with me through thick and thin for 27 years.”

Chuck has slept in a chair next to Missy’s bed at the hospital.

On a team

Their son Chuckie is a junior at Middlesex High where his football teammates have pulled together for him, even driving him to the hospital in Fairfax to see his mother. 
Missy was in the hospital when Middlesex defeated Mathews in the most thrilling game of the season in November. Charger coach Heath Cockerham made Missy a video of the game.

“The community is like one big family,” said Missy. “It’s an awesome feeling. From the bottom of my heart I thank everybody. I may have a bad heart, but it’s still a loving heart.”
Missy’s daughter Jessica, 20, “has been my angel and my rock” and helped her stay positive. Jessica is a junior at CNU.

Missy shared this advice that seems especially appropriate during the holidays. “I thank God every day that I can get up and look at sunshine,” said Missy. “People rush too much. They need to slow down and enjoy the things around them.”

Missy stays connected through her facebook page:

posted 12.22.2009

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