Marketing & Communications

Kayla Cyr turns adversity into asset

 

Kayla Cyr pictured (above top) with her mom, 
uncle, grandfather and two church leaders 
delivering Hurricane Sandy relief supplies to 
Grace Bible Church in Oakwood Beach, Staten 
Island and (above bottom) posing with 
Ronald McDonald at a recent fundraising event 
to provide comfort and care to children and their families through Ronald McDonald Charities.

When Kayla Cyr was 16-years-old, she had a decision to make. She could succumb to the overwhelming injuries she sustained from a head-on car collision, or she could become a champion for those in need.

Fortunately for members of the Castalia, Ohio community, Cyr dedicated herself to making a full recovery and establishing an organization to help families in need.

“My grandparents have always been active in community work,” said Cyr. “They had me help with clothes drives, food pantries and toy donations, so I had exposure early in life to helping others.”

However, during her own two-month hospitalization Cyr’s passion for helping others intensified as she shared a room with a one-year-old cancer patient who was also from Castalia.

“My eyes were really opened to the hardships endured by families when someone in the family faces a chronic illness. Their whole lives are literally taken over trying to get the best care for their loved one. This makes it incredibly difficult to pay bills, keep jobs, and care for the rest of the family.”

To assist such families, Cyr established Kayla’s Community Closet which provides families with items and donations specifically tailored to their needs. If you need size six school pants for your son, the group will locate and deliver them. If you need help purchasing gas in order to drive to repeated hospital visits, Kayla’s Community Closet helps. The group accepts and organizes clothing and household items and hosts numerous fundraisers to provide cash assistance to families. Cyr recently reached out to her community for Hurricane Sandy relief and delivered a truckload of donated items to a church in Staten Island.

Unlike many organizations, Kayla’s Community Closet does not have any qualification restrictions. If you need help, the organization provides it.

“As I met more families at the hospital, I learned that there can be a lot of bureaucracy involved in accessing assistance. I wanted to make sure obtaining support was not an additional burden.”

In Cyr’s hometown of Castalia, there are scores of families that need help. Castalia is in the heart of a cancer cluster in eastern Sandusky County that is being investigated by the Sandusky County Health Department, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

While the agencies are seeking answers, Cyr is helping families. “This is such a tight-knit community that literally everyone knows someone affected by the cancer cluster. People are glad that Kayla’s Community Closet provides a tangible way to lend a hand.”

“Kayla demonstrates an uncommon level of tenacity, compassion and desire to help others,” said Donna Colcord, director of the BGSU Speech and Hearing Clinic. “Many people might say they want to help, but she really ‘walks the walk.’ Given her own medical challenges, her efforts are truly astounding.”

As an example, Colcord points to an incident during Cyr’s junior year. During finals week, Cyr suffered a stroke (her second) due to the strain the accident caused on her vascular system. She underwent a semester of treatment with Colcord while also juggling a full class schedule, volunteer work and various medical appointments.

Cyr’s determination to help others is reflected in her future plans which include attending graduate school to study speech disorders and expanding the reach of Kayla’s Community College.

“She doesn’t let anything impact her ability to complete everything she wants to do,” said Colcord. “I expect her to go far, both in her upcoming graduate studies and in the speech and hearing field.”

 

 (Posted December 10, 2012 )