Local woman’s inspirational life story featured in new book

Local author, Doreen Rickert Rademacher announces the release of her first book: I Can and I Did! The Kelly Finger McNeela story. This is the tale of one woman’s courageous pursuit of a full life despite battling multiple sclerosis.

Dealt an MS diagnosis at age 15, McNeela needed a wheelchair by the time she attended college, but was determined to live a normal life. She built a career, a marriage and became a mother despite what she describes as ‘unique obstacles’. None of which proved as formidable as being placed in a nursing home and facing a divorce yet she managed to find the silver lining in even those dark clouds.

“I first met Kelly, at Belmont Elementary School where our daughters were classmates and I was immediately struck by her wit and ready sense of humor,” Rademacher said. “She was everywhere, involved in everything and despite the challenges of her physical condition; there was nothing she wouldn’t do to help out.”

These characteristics drew Rademacher in for a closer look and the two agreed to work on what started as a potential feature story – and possibly a short bridge to help Rademacher make a career change.

“Kelly very generously agreed to let me interview her with the intent of going the route of a short story,” Rademacher commented. “But within a month, Kelly was admitted to a nursing home – under great duress, lost a loved-one and just as she was recovering from that, faced a divorce. There seemed to be no good time to bring her story to conclusion so we kept the chronicle running for two years. And just when I feared a happy ending would elude us, Kelly rose to the occasion. She found a way through this ominous period in her life and got herself out of a very depressing nursing home situation. She has an amazing strength of will – so gritty and tenacious — her story needs to be shared.”

Readers will undoubtedly be inspired by McNeela’s remarkable perseverance and lively sense of humor but it’s her intense concern for others that will hopefully leave a mark.

“No matter how bad things may seem, there’s always someone else that has it worse,” McNeela said. “I hope to encourage people to focus on what they can do and inspire them to go do it!”

In that spirit, the two women have agreed to sell the book to raise money toward the dream of building Kelly’s Place – an assisted living center dedicated to caring for younger residents faced with situations that require 24/7 help.

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