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Mom is inspired by memories of her daughter's strength

Posted at 9:57 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 09:57:47-05

It’s common that after losing someone, it’s said they are gone but not forgotten.

For Lisa Yerkes, her daughter is gone, lost to muscular dystrophy, but still an inspiration.

“I think the people that have met Olivia, had a conversation with her,” Lisa states emphatically, “I think their life has been changed. I truly truly believe that.”

Olivia’s life ended at 13. She lived with a wheelchair and a host of support materials, but she had a drive that erased physical limitations.

“There’s no excuse not to try,” she said once. “There’s no excuse. You just have to try.”

Olivia continues to inspire her mother.

“I decided that my calling is to go back, to go into nursing school and eventually work in the pediatric intensive care,” Lisa said. “I believe that I need to take care of kids like Olivia, and not so much just for the kids but for the families as well.”

She also opened a salon named Live Beautifully. “Because that’s what she did. She lived every day beautifully.”

(Watch the video for views of Olivia in action.)

Olivia’s memory now lives in Mexico. As Lisa tells it, she heard of a family there struggling with the news that their 9-year-old daughter had muscular dystrophy. Realizing the limited healthcare available to that family, Lisa gave them the things that helped Olivia during her life: “her power wheelchair, her shower chair, her manual wheelchair, swim floats, cases in cases of food that she needed that are very, very expensive tubing ... machines.”

The help was so significant to that family that the dad drove up to Michigan to pick it all up.

“It was probably the hardest day I had,” Lisa remembers. “But it was also the most rewarding thing, and that's what Olivia would have done.

As Olivia said it: “You just have to try.”