Bestselling author, longtime Detroit Free Press columnist and philanthropist Mitch Albom sent a “long-distance hug” to Mary Free Bed employees for taking care of someone special to him and for doing “really important, amazing work.”
Albom shared his sentiments in a video message for helping a young girl during her recent inpatient stay. Albom is good friends with Grand Rapids residents Brian and Kathy Kelly, and has known their daughter, Faith, since she was born. Kathy helped plan the 1995 wedding of Mitch and his wife, Janine, and they’ve remained close ever since.
Born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that developed after she suffered a stroke in utero, Faith used ankle-foot orthoses for support while growing up. Now 15, Faith had bilateral reconstructive knee surgery in February to improve her overall leg stability. In April, she started rehabilitation in the Mary Free Bed Kids inpatient program to regain strength, balance and to work on walking again.
Due to COVID-19 visitor restrictions, Albom followed Faith’s recovery from a distance and was moved to create a two-minute video recognizing Mary Free Bed staff “not only for your dedication to her but your dedication to your jobs, period.”
Faith’s team appreciated those words of gratitude. Physical therapist Cara Hudson, who grew up in the Detroit area, was especially touched. Her family subscribed to the Detroit Free Press, and Cara’s a fan of Albom’s columns and books, including “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” His books have sold 40 million copies worldwide and been made into Emmy Award-winning movies.
Cara’s also appreciative of the Alboms’ charitable efforts to help those in need.
“The Alboms have done significant work for children with special needs, so it really means a lot to hear words of encouragement come from him,” Cara said. “It validates the reason we do this job. It’s about the kids … the people we are helping get back to living their lives.”
The Kellys said they feel fortunate to have “such a world-class organization right here in Grand Rapids.”
“The entire hospital staff was absolutely incredible under the difficult circumstances caused by necessary COVID-19 precautions,” said Brian, who wasn’t surprised Albom would want to express his thanks.
“We know how hard Mitch works through his charities in the Detroit area to assist various vulnerable populations,” Brian said. “Detroit was especially hard hit by COVID-19, and Mitch has spent considerable time assisting frontline workers. We know how much he admires those who put others first during this crisis. So, Mitch’s admiration and gratitude for those helping Faith at Mary Free Bed is a natural extension of that.
“The video underscores how much he loves Faith and the respect he has for anyone who helps our family.”
Faith spent six weeks at Mary Free Bed before graduating May 12 to return home and continue her recovery.
Watch Albom’s message here: