In early October our founder, Gina Adams interviewed Emily and Laura Bonnell for our Facebook interview series. We met Emily Bonnell when she applied for a position with us at Ware•ologie in April of 2020. Emily eagerly joined our team as the Marketing Manager, and has been working on our social media and advertising since. Not only does she work for us at Ware•ologie, but Emily also volunteers her time with The Bonnell Foundation: Living with cystic fibrosis. Emily’s mother Laura, founded The Bonnell Foundation in 2010. Both Emily and her sister Molly have the genetic disease known as Cystic Fibrosis.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the lungs, pancreas, digestive system, and entirety of the internal organs. Emily takes enzymes when she eats because she can’t digest her food on her own. She is incredibly susceptible to illness making COVID-19 especially dangerous. Although her health has improved a lot with her age, she still struggles constantly with her disease. A big topic of our conversation was that Cystic Fibrosis, or CF, can be an invisible illness. Emily appears to be an able bodied person in day to day life, but what you wouldn’t know from looking at her, is that she’s spent most of her life in and out of the hospital. The common cold has potential to turn into pneumonia, and every day bacterias are incapable of being cleared out of the chest. Her lungs are incredibly delicate, and she told us that in 2019 the flu became so severe for her she began coughing up blood. Emily pointed out that Lainie Ishbia from TrendAble talks about invisible disabilities a lot in her blog posts and we’ve noticed this is a common theme with a lot of our community.
Due to the fragility of her lungs, Emily has been incredibly isolated during the COVID-19 outbreak. She talked about the loneliness in isolation, and the lack of understanding there seems to be sometimes in public. She stressed the importance of wearing masks, especially because she and many other may appear to be an able bodied person, but COVID-19 is life threatening for her. Emily also touched on the loneliness of being a susceptible person at home while this pandemic is going on around her. This is something a lot of our followers have touched on and talked with us about as well. It seems to her that most able bodied people are starting to move on with their lives, while those with immune deficiencies are left to figure it out completely on their own. We stressed the importance of talking with others and checking in on our friends and family routinely.
Laura Bonnell has been isolating alongside Emily, to provide her with a safe area she can visit for dinners, groceries, and hugs when she needs them. The Bonnell Foundation: living with cystic fibrosis, was founded in 2010 when Laura realized the need for parents to have support. Most foundations hadn’t tapped into the need for community support for new parents! Laura went to work and started her foundation. Over the years, it has grown in numbers and financial support. They’re able to provide college scholarships and financial assistance for lung transplant patients! Going beyond finances, The Bonnell Foundation forms a community where people can go for answers and support. Emily helps Laura with social media from time to time, but Laura is the founder who runs the show! Laura is always making connections, fundraising, and searching for a way to improve the lives of those living with this genetic disease.
Laura and Emily ask that we all have kindness and compassion for each other, because disabilities and illnesses do not all look one way. We truly don’t know what our fellow humans are going through. Especially in this difficult time of the pandemic, it’s important to have a bit extra understanding for others. It was a pleasure chatting with them. To find out more about Cystic Fibrosis and ways to donate and get involved, check out their website here.
Wareologie develops assistive devices to restore levels of independence and self-care, allowing people to maintain their dignity. Founded in 2019 with support from the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MI-SBDC) and Lawrence Technological University’s Centrepolis Accelerator, Wareologie is an FDA, certified WBENC company committed to manufacturing in Michigan.