Written by our founder's daughter Kalli Wedlake:
I am happy to share this story as I have been able to watch it unfold throughout my life. My mom is a nurse, it's not just what she does for a living but it's a large part of who she is as a person. Her healing heart can be felt by everyone around and the excitement she gets in her soul when she sees a child is palpable to everyone in the room. As her daughter I received the opportunity to connect with many of my mom's patients as she worked to help and heal them but it wasn't until Sheldon came into the picture that I saw just how much of her heart she gives to her patients.
When Renae was in nursing school she was told by one of her instructors that she absolutely could not become connected to her patients, she was just there to do her job and leave, nursing is not about feeling for your patients. She listened to what the instructor said like the good student she was however she then turned around and said to herself, "nope, I will put my heart into each and every patient I touch"... And that is exactly what she has done and continues to do.
Her first patient out of nursing school was a premature baby born with major heart defect. The doctors said he wouldn't live past his first few days but she didn't give up, then a wonderful couple came in looking to adopt this little boy. They questioned if they could handle the challenges that come with raising a child with these kind of complications but she was there reassuring them and explaining everything to them every step of the process. Now 30+ years later that little boy is still living and his adoptive parents continue their friendship with my mom and the rest of our family. We can't imagine what life would be like if she hadn't taken the time to build that relationship and provide that support.
Mom has had hundreds of patients over the years and many have touched her soul and our family in many ways but I think it is fair to say that one young man holds an extra special place in her heart. I remember the first time I heard about her patient Sheldon, a wonderful young man battling cancer. He and mom connected in a way that I've never seen, it was as if they were best friends. He literally trusted her with his life and she in return gave him all the care, compassion and attention she could in order to help him heal. And he did heal the first time, but the cancer came back, and then her job changed. Sheldon never stopped fighting and my mom was with him every step of the way but it eventually got to a point where her job was to help him move on to the next phase of life in the easiest way possible. Sheldon asked her many questions through their time together and no matter how tough the subject mom always answered truthfully. One day Sheldon asked her what heaven would be like her response was, "Heaven is a beautiful place where there are no illness', no pain and no suffering. There is only joy, love and happiness." When Sheldon moved to heaven it felt as though life would never be the same for anyone touched by him. But since he passed my mom has felt his presence, guiding her to All Heart.
After her experience with Sheldon my mom knew that she would never stop working with patients, no matter what opportunities were presented to her, as I said being a nurse is who she is. At this time she was again told that she needed to spend less time with patients and focus on the quantity of visits she could achieve rather than the quality. Feeling that this directive went against what she believed to be the best way to be a nurse she thought that perhaps it was time for her to be done. She questioned if she could work as a nurse and stay true to her beliefs. After speaking with her family and close friends she was told that she could not stop being a nurse because, as she knew in her heart, the only way to change it would be to start something of her own. Thus, All Heart Infusion was born. A non profit organization focused on compassionate, patient centered nursing. A place that promotes treating the whole patient with your whole heart.
I hope this story provides you with some insight into the amazing woman I get to call mom and her journey to starting this wonderful organization.