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Boston mom takes on NYC after Sandy

When Gisela Voss lost her son, she made a vow to start saying yes more often. So, in the face of tragedy, she did.

An opportunity to help

It was days after Hurricane Sandy, and Boston mom Gisela had just signed up for Facebook when she saw a post from an online acquaintance, Crystal, asking if anyone was available to drive to New York. Crystal was trying to deliver marine batteries to power a life-sustaining ventilator for a handicapped man who lived on the 12th story in lower-Manhattan. He couldn’t be evacuated to a hospital.

Gisela immediately responded and said that she would help. The answer was easy, as she had just lost her 19-year-old son, Luke, a few months before. “Luke was the kind of kid who said yes. ‘Would you like to try the spiciest food ever?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Hey, Luke, want to play cribbage?’ ‘Yes.’ He always said yes,” she says. So Gisela had vowed to say yes more often, too.

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Reality sets in

Gisela asked her sister to join her, and with Crystal, the three women drove into the city, “I never thought about the realities or the dangers.” That is until they hit the bridge, and it was completely void of traffic. “It was eerie,” she admits.

But it wasn’t until they opened the trunk of the car after they reached the handicapped man, Nick Dupree’s apartment building, that Gisela had a what-have-I-gotten-myself-into moment. Each battery weighed 63 pounds. While Crystal, also wheelchair bound, waited in the car in the dark, Gisela and her sister carried the batteries, one at a time, up the pitch-black narrow stairwell step by step, leaning on the wall for support as they approached the 12th floor.

She says, “In retrospect, it was more parallel to losing Luke than I ever imagined. And I know it sounds corny, but I felt him there with me.” When they reached the couple’s apartment with the batteries, Gisela says the feeling was unexplainable. “I felt young and energized,” and she and her sister practically bounded down the stairs to get another load of supplies for Nick.

Dig deeper, do something

Gisela says, “Sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until you have to do something that you never thought you could. There was no way I was going to say no.” In honor of Luke, she said yes and gained a friend in Crystal and a rewarding experience she never would have had if she had said no and simply gone to work the next day as planned. “Turns out saying ‘what the heck’ is never a bad answer,” she adds.

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Gisela admits that before this experience she was rather guarded to those with problems so much worse than her own. She says, “In our day-to-day lives we don’t see the hardships of others. But if you see something, do something. Dig a little deeper. We can all do something, even when you think you can’t or you’re too busy or you’re not strong enough. We can all do something to help.”

You can be a hero! This Mother’s Day nominate the hero mom in your life from April 19 – May 13 with #MyHeroMom. On April 29 Northwestern Mutual will donate $25,000. For every image upload, Facebook share, like, tweet, or retweet, Northwestern Mutual will donate $5, up to $50,000, to fund 1,000 hours of childhood cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Start sharing now.

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