“Life is tough but I am tougher.” When we first met Janessa Lussetto from Bridgeport, Nebraska in the fall of 2011, she and her mother Kelly were wearing matching shirts sporting that message. She was one-and-a-half years old at the time. Janessa had accidentally rolled into a campfire pit during a family campout that was still hot after the fire had been extinguished. The severe burns covered her lower left leg and caused webbing between her toes.
The emergency initially took Janessa to a Denver hospital where treating physicians seriously considered amputating some or all of her toes. Before such a decision was finalized, Kelly had conversed with specialists at Sacramento’s Shriner’s Hospital and the family formed new plans. Janessa and her father Greg made the initial trip to Sacramento in September 2011. A month later, she and her mother traveled to Shriner’s for a second visit.
As Janessa has grown, the Lussettos have traveled from Nebraska to Sacramento in 2012, 2013, 2015, and again three weeks ago. Today, she is an energetic eight-and-a-half year old. Each round of visits has involved skin graft and scar removal surgeries. Shriner’s Hospital has paid for all of their trips. Kiwanis Family House has always served as their temporary home. “It has been nice to know that I can just focus on my daughter during these trips and procedures,” Kelly says. “I was a member of Key Club in high school but did not fully appreciate the impact of Kiwanis community service.” Yes, life can be very tough but, from the outset, Janessa and her parents proclaimed that they were tougher.
In very many ways, our guest families assure us that Kiwanis Family House is a safe, secure, and comfortable home that enables them to face adversity with love and courage.