Cassie and Chris 2016

Cassie and Chris 2016

Our Story

It all started in a seminary class in high school, with a "mop-headed boy" and a dancer/singer who sat behind him. As only friends in high school, and then reuniting after Christopher's mission, we were married in the LDS temple in Manti, Utah, and have now been married for over 7 years.

On January 16, 2013, Cassie was diagnosed with a stroke. As a result, many of our dreams and goals were delayed. But we were not to be deterred. Chris graduated in 2014 and currently works at Imagine Learning, and Cassie graduated in 2016 and now volunteers at the hospital while maintaining the apartment.

As we now commence on our journey to adopt, please spread the word! Comments are welcome as expressions of love and support. Most important is the faith and prayers offered in our behalf. So we invite you to share in our journey, as we look back in time to the beginning of the emergency and then update you to the joys and trials we face together. This is our story.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The 4th Anniversary of Her Stroke

It has now been 4 years to the day since Cassie's stroke. We contemplate her progress since then, and know that although more is required, she has done so well and has maintained a positive attitude in the midst of her trial.

We rediscovered this gem of the photography session we did as part of the "Beauty Revived" movement by various photographers. We invite your to check it out!

She is amazing and keeps pushing! 

Christmas Day

We had a blast this Christmas. It was nice to have family around. Cassie did happen to be sick most of the time, so that dampened the spirit a bit. We did find joy in the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign the church did, as it stretched us and drew us closer to our Savior.

Naturally, the hair on Chris' head is usually not as exciting as this

At the Holt's

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

We decided to do a "Christmas letter" because we have not posted at all this year! FYI this is going to be a longer post because we will go over everything important that happened this year!

In March, Cassie's closest friends decided that they would throw her a pre-graduation party. Since her stroke, she was determined to finish college, and did so by taking a class per semester. She is so grateful for really good friends and for their love and support. She does not know what she would be without them and is so grateful to God that He put them in her life! P.S. Kaitie's little girl Olivia really likes to feel Chris' facial hair its pretty soft and I agree with her!  

Nanny died – after a short struggle she went peacefully. It's still hard to comprehend, because we both feel that she is still alive on earth, when in reality she is not. Though Cassie only knew her for a short time, they developed a special bond, much like Nanny shared with all of her grandchildren. We are going to miss her, but know that we will be reunited again.

Cassie graduated from UVU! It was such an exciting time, with much stress as we fought (literally) sometimes and clawed our way to the end. She received magna cum laude honors, which is a great accomplishment. It's difficult for her to grasp graduating because she has wanted this for 9 years and that's a long time! Chris is so glad that she persevered and made this goal a reality. Since graduation, it's been an adventure to figure out what to do next. We will figure it out!

As a way to commemorate her achievement in graduating, we planned a southern California trip over the Memorial Day weekend and following week. We included Ariana and Ethan, as Ariana also graduated from BYU and it was Ethan's "junior trip" (he's convinced he'll get a senior trip also). It was a lot of fun. We rented a minivan and drove to West Covina to our hotel for the first night. As is our tradition, we visited temples on the way (St. George and Las Vegas) as well as throughout the trip (Redlands, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, and San Diego). Our first day was at Universal Studios, with particular focus on the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. That was super fun, and it brought back good memories from Chris' time there a decade earlier. We made sure to go to the beach, the San Diego Zoo, the farmers market, and many other memorable places. The only negative part? 2nd degree burns on Chris' shoulders and 1st degree burns on his back. Lesson learned!

During the summer months, Cassie discovered an organization called Wasatch Adaptive Sports, based in the Salt Lake City area. They were a sponsor for the annual stroke run that we have participated in since its inauguration in 2013. WAS does events throughout the year for veterans and those that suffer from a multitude of physical and mental ailments. For Cassie, this brought about cycling. The very first time she sat in the recumbent bike was thrilling! They walked with her around the park, and she felt free in a way she had not experienced for some time. Now she had an outlet for exercise, both fun and safe. She continued to do the cycling until around the end of November when it became too cold.

In late August we moved to Payson. It’s hard to believe. We had lived with Cassie's family for almost 3 years exactly, essentially in a "studio apartment." It was nerve-wracking for Cassie to consider the changes, and with the busyness of our move plus the move of Curtis & Nicole to Cedar City a week previous, it was crazy! Plus the irony of the situation is now we have normal people bills, like rent and gas and utilities. However, we know that we were inspired by the Holy Ghost to make our move here. Everything is not ideal (it’s a duplex though and that affords Cassie the independence she has wanted), but it is becoming more like a home.

Just a week ago, we both went up to Snowbird for Cassie to do a skiing test with Wasatch Adaptive Sports. Much like the cycling in the summer, she was scared because she knows her physical limitations. But like the champion she is known to be, she still went and it turned out to be awesome – plus the instructors said she was a natural! She was completely safe and it was so pretty up there, with all of the snow and mountain scenery surrounding us.

As an end of year announcement, we are beginning the journey of adoption. It is really exciting and scary at the same time. But we started it anyway! We are moving through the process now, and this blog will become a way for us to now document this journey for our loved ones to view and assist.

Ultimately, we are grateful for this Christmas season to celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. With the birth of the Christ child, so began His journey to save mankind, and so began our journey to follow Him and take advantage of His Atonement. He is the Light of the World, and may we reflect His light to everyone.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting that pesky driver's license back ...

I am working to get my license back. I've had a few weeks worth of practice. At first I was nervous but I've become more comfortable with it. I even got some accessibility devices: a spinning knob for the steering wheel and a floor device that uses the accelerator, but through a left-foot pedal. We are looking for a new car, and it seems like we've looked at a million. Nothing has really seemed to come through. I don't feel like we are being too picky either - none of the vehicles have settled well with us.

I did take my driving test on Wednesday. I thought I did really well. Unfortunately I did not pass. It was not too far beyond the passing range, but I was super annoyed and disappointed! I thought I had done quite well and demonstrated what I had practiced. I failed because the instructor said I had too many "bad habits." Chris told me that I need to be ridiculous and exaggerate behavior while driving, signaling and doing head checks in places that most people do not while actually driving in the real world. So I will have to practice some more for my next driving test!

UPDATE! I succeeded in getting my license back! It will be nice to have a sense of independence again.

New York & Pennsylvania vacation

Chris and I returned a few weeks ago from a vacation back out to the eastern U.S. He had a business trip for his working (Imagine Learning) and it just so happened to be held in Pennsylvania. Each time he has returned too that part of the nation, he has ended up somewhere in PA. I think that is a neat thing. It was nice because his expenses were paid by the company (for the most part) and so we only had to worry about the costs associated with me. So, of course, we made a bigger vacation out of it!

Our flight got in to Rochester early in the morning; we got to bed around 2 AM. The first activity was to go to Niagara Falls. It was a majestic scene to behold: the power of the rushing waters, the ever-present rainbow, and the beauty of the area. New York state reminds Chris a lot of Pennsylvania. I'm just so astounded and pleased with all the greenery! That is a draw to go live in that part of the county.

After that we went to Palmyra and the Sacred Grove. The temple was beautiful and it was super fun to see some of the first historic sites of the Restoration. To see the area where a young Joseph was raised and had the experience of seeing the Father and the Son was inspiring and cool. The off-road wheelchair I sat in didn't hurt either! For a few days we stayed with the Wojcicki family - and how the kids have grown! I did get a few spider bites though, which stayed as a nasty skin wound until a few days ago. We love this family and are grateful they were willing to lodge us and keep us company!

We were able to visit Philadelphia and New York City on separate days. Both cities were busy, though NYC was far worse and overwhelming for the senses. We had planned on going to see a Broadway show, but the masses of people and the subway transportation and all the walking was more than we bargained for. Philly, though, was a great place to see. In all the major cities we visited, we saw the temples there. Palmyra, Philadelphia and Manhattan. What a joyful experience it was to see the houses of the Lord in their different locations, and how beautiful they were no matter what. It also helped to visit these cities in a yellow 2015 Kia Soul. Both Chris and I did not like these vehicles prior to our rental - but now we love it!

I did have a difficult time at the resort we stayed out. It was by Lake Harmony in PA (called Split Rock), but the beauty was overshadowed by its inaccessibility. There were too many flights of stairs, hardly any access was available to impaired persons. So without Chris there to steady me, I really was not able to enjoy the lake or much of the resort. He was mindful of it for the most part and tried to make it an enjoyable experience for me.

All in all, we had a great time, had success shopping at the outlet mall in Tannersville, saw some good family friends, enjoyed the beauty of the area (so green!!!!), and visited places we had yet to see before.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Testimony Fills My Heart

I bore my testimony in church today and I know that Christ is happy with my decision. And I did not know that it was my two year anniversary, but my mom reminder me of it (discharged from the hospital on March 1, 2013). It is weird to think how far I have come, and it will be weird a year from today! I went from not speaking at all in the beginning to bearing my testimony today in church!

Shared by Cassandra

Cassie and I both bore our testimonies today in sacrament meeting. I'm so grateful for her courage and spiritual insights. I have felt that she has been much more closer to the Holy Ghost, and her readiness to respond and abide. She did a wonderful job. She told me an hour before leaving for church that she wanted to share her witness today. She thought about it and wrote down some things. Even if she has to do this, I think it is okay because as she shared it I could feel the power of her conviction and her sweet spirit. I am grateful for my testimony and my chance to share it today. It reminds me of the scripture that I only rediscovered recently in D&C 62:3: "Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you."

Shared by Christopher

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thursday's Heroes - BYU football

October 22nd was a day that won't be forgotten soon.  As not many people know, Cassandra was nominated by some family friends for the Thursday's Heroes program that is sponsored by the Mendenhall's and BYU football.  The vision of the program is as follows: Thursday’s Heroes began in 2006 and is sponsored by The Holly & Bronco Mendenhall Foundation. The aim of the program was to provide support, encouragement, and in some cases,financial aid, to children & families that are facing significant life challenges.

We had waited and waited to see if she had been chosen for the program.  Word came, probably a month ago, that she had indeed been selected and would be a Thursday Hero.  We were all super excited.  As many have seen on Facebook, the Kieffer, Holt and Lilly family joined together to celebrate this event.  

Anyway, the actual day of was great.  We gathered at the student athletic building on the BYU campus, were shown around the football lobby, the coaches' offices, and the playing fields.  Because BYU was going up to Boise State, they were practicing on the astro turf in the indoor practice facility.  After the practice, the team huddled up and then approached us like a massive army, Bronco with his arms outstretched.  He gave Cassie a hug, introduced the team, and then Andrew Mikkelsen (#29 freshman kicker) and Craig Bills (#20 senior defensive back) gave her a bunch of gifts (T-shirts, jersey, hats, football, etc.) and a flag and football with player and coach signatures.  Cassie also was able to sign the flag that the team carries with them to games, so she will always be represented at BYU football games no matter where it is.  Pictures and additional video are pending.  Below is the video that was presented to the team before practices, as read by Greg Wrubell the "Voice of the Cougars" (he has been calling play-by-play for the BYU Football team for many years).

All in all, it was a wonderful experience, with so much love and joy to be had.  Thanks to all those who came physically (Cassie and Chris Holt; Cathy Holt; Troy, Amy and Ethan Lilly; and our cameraman Travis) and those in spirit.

P.S. There are some neat perks to being a Thursday's Heroes not mentioned: we get to go to a game, so we chose the "blackout" game against UNLV on November 15; we get to enjoy the pregame practice and meet the team again for pregame ceremonies.  There is also an annual banquet for all heroes to return to and meet others.  In short, Cassie will be a part of BYU forever.

Submitted by Christopher

Thursday, October 16, 2014

An Eventful Saturday

October 12th was an exciting day! It started out with primary practice, and I figured out how to put up folding chairs! In the middle of the day we had Gramps' 80th birthday party and I talked with several people. It's a small world, because I remember my conversation about Dr. Edgely that I had with Jen Holt (that they are cousins)! I said I saw him last month at his office, and I was very impressed with him, because he had a stroke when he was 27! The last thing was a dinner, with the Kieffer family, Holt family and my family! So we had dinner and we sat around talking a bit and I knew my mom was going to get up and give Mat a thank you gift from BYU for working there for 15 years. But I didn't know he was going to present me with an award too ... I am a part of Thursday's heroes! This means that I can go and meet the team after the football practice on October 22, and I get to go to a football game. On top of that I also get to go to BYU every year by BYUs invitation for a Thursday's heroes banquet!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Saebo Videos + School Again + New Job = Many Changes

I am going to start school again in 2 weeks.  I am really excited but also nervous.  Pray for me as it will be a new experience for me.  I have always done so well in school and never have had to depend on anything or anyone to get me by.  Sure, I've asked for help before - but nothing like this.

Chris started a new job at Qualtrics, after over 4 years at Convergys.  He is excited and also nervous!  Looks like we are sharing many of the same feelings.  More to come as we learn more.

Here are two fun videos showing the Saebo device on my right arm:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Vacation and lots of stuff!!

We went on vacation to Idaho and visited Mike and Ashley Clark! We played games and went out to eat, watched movies and talked! We had a great time! Here is my only picture!

We had my Ultraflex hand brace casted and here is a video! 

My whole family went to the Strides for Strokes activity on May 31, and Ariana and Ethan ran the 5K and everybody else walked the 1 mile victory walk. We also went to Ashley's baby shower! Kaitie was there and she is in last two weeks of her pregnancy!

I got my Saebo device, which is what I have been waiting for!!  This device uses springs and helps me use all of my fingers and not just my hand.  I filmed the Saebo the first day I got it!