Yesterday, Leigh Newton Pechillo, who traveled with Up with People Cast B 1993, awoke to her two young children singing to her. She posted the video and more yesterday about how her children celebrated her on the day they know is named for her — Mother’s Day. Later yesterday, Leigh suffered a major heart attack and is in ICU. I didn’t travel in Leigh’s cast, but our casts share the same reunion years and we have become friends through the years. Her cast is AMAZING and they have a bond that has been a blessing to witness as a fellow alumni and as a member of the Up with People International Alumni Association Board of Governors when one of their cast mates was honored with the J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumni Award in 2008. At last year’s reunion, Leigh was surprised when she was honored with the James E. MacLennan Everyday Hero Award! To those that know Leigh, it is a fitting honor and could easily be awarded her every. single. day. because she is a hero every day.
When the tragic events occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Leigh immediately took action to help the families and town that suffered such tragic losses and she has stayed active with her support. When other parents, friends, and strangers have experienced a heartbreaking loss or a wound of some kind in their life, Leigh is always one of the first to take action to help. Leigh and her husband Tom know first hand the fear a parent experiences when their child is hurting or seriously ill. Leigh created a beautiful video that shares her son’s story.
What I have learned from watching Leigh through the years is to stay focused, stay positive, and keep telling your story. Leigh and her family are champions for the American Heart Association and for Leigh, I want to share Robby’s Story with you. Your prayers for her recovery are so very welcomed and, since right now, Leigh’s physical voice is quiet, I’m asking for all of you willing to be her voice to please share Robby’s Story also. Leigh’s love for her children is beyond measure and her determination to help Robby and others challenged with a heart disease or defect knows no bounds. She truly is an every day hero. Thank you for sharing Robby’s Story and thank you for praying for Leigh and her family.