By Leslie Foster
Years ago when Sharon Budd conquered breast cancer, she must surely have thought that life would never bring anything worse. She could never have imagined what the future would hold. Loving, caring, intuitive, funny, colorful, thoughtful, compassionate, loyal, and devoted are all words to describe Sharon. This teacher, wife, breast cancer survivor and mother of four is remarkably strong. Her husband, Randy Budd, describes her as “Sharon Budd Strong.” It is that strength that has helped her fight for her life as she recovers from severe injuries sustained from a horrific and senseless act of violence.
On the night of July 10, 2014, four teenagers decided to throw rocks from an Interstate 80 overpass in Pennsylvania. First, they threw a 25-pound rock at a semi-truck striking the truck’s bug deflector. Shortly after, the teens lobbed an 8-pound rock that struck the front windshield of the Budd’s vehicle. While her 19-year-old daughter, Kaylee Budd, was driving, Sharon was riding in the front passenger seat. Luckily Kaylee was able to safely pull off the road; however, when the car’s interior light came on, she saw that her mother had suffered severe injuries. Randy, who was riding in the back seat, described the rock’s contact as an explosion and Sharon’s injuries as so gruesome, he was unaware of what he was actually seeing. As Kaylee and Randy waited for emergency vehicles to respond, they held Sharon’s hands.
When they arrived at the hospital, doctors advised Randy that Sharon was close to death and suggested he contact loved ones. A few hours later, two doctors decided to perform an emergency surgery that would save Sharon’s life. After a week of recuperation, Sharon faced her next challenge–a 13½ hour surgery to reconstruct her face. During this surgery doctors were forced to remove parts of her brain.
There is a silver lining and a lesson to this story. It lies within the incredible outpouring of support, love, and prayers that Sharon and her family have received and are continuing to receive. It is not surprising considering the love that Sharon has put out into the world; it is a testament of all of that love coming back to her. The power of prayer was evident during Sharon’s most critical moments and one could feel a higher power when visiting with her. The silver lining also lies within the human spirit to come together as a community to lend support to the Budds. Three online websites, local donations from a Central Pennsylvania “Bike Run,” a “#BuddStrong Event” hosted by Edison Middle School where staff sold #BuddStrong tee-shirts and bracelets, donations from the Perry and Lake communities, and donations from across the nation have resulted in significant funds to help the Budd family.
Perry Local School District has received generous cash donations and gift cards for Sharon’s family. There are countless fundraisers and community events scheduled to support Sharon Budd. All of the support and media attention have brought a tremendous awareness about the consequences of senseless acts. The support has also given Sharon’s devoted husband Randy the strength to be by his loving wife’s side and to share her story with media outlets from across the country.
Another lesson Sharon continues to teach throughout this long and difficult struggle is a reminder of how she lives her life. With such a strong passion for life, she is truly an incredible loving and giving woman. The rare kind of person that can bring the best qualities out of anyone she meets. One becomes a better person just knowing her. Sharon Budd is an incredible wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and colleague. Let her be an inspiration to all to live every single day with the passion for life and for the relationships she has with people.
While Sharon will be undergoing extensive rehab in Pennsylvania when Perry starts the 2014-2015 school year, she will still be teaching at Edison Middle School. Her legacy as a teacher, a colleague, and friend will inspire teachers to make more meaningful relationships with students, design even better and more engaging lessons, and make each and every student feel special and loved. One of Sharon’s students described her as, “The most beautiful Language Arts teacher I’ve ever had.”
Sharon’s love for her students and her own children are insurmountable. Through the years she has made a huge impact and helped shape the character of her students by bringing out their best. One must question if the young men from Pennsylvania would have committed such a senseless act had they have experienced Mrs. Budd’s love by being in her classroom. Sharon’s love shapes people in profound ways. Her oldest son, Lucas Budd, is serving his second tour overseas in the United States Army National Guard. His deployment to Afghanistan was pushed back until July 29, 2014. When Randy learned of his son’s delayed deployment, he relayed the information to family members while they were in the hospital waiting room. Sharon’s mother, Shirley Betz, exclaimed, “I’m glad. I will feel better every second that Luke is in this country.” Sharon’s youngest son, Joey Budd, replied, “No Grandma, every day that Luke’s deployment is delayed means that the men there are not able to get home to their families.” Upon hearing that, one could feel a tremendous sense of pride for Sharon, that her message to love and to care about others before her own needs sounded loud and clear through her son.
Sharon Budd continues to defy odds and exceed the expectations set forth by her doctors, rehabilitation specialists, and speech therapists while she undergoes intensive therapy at Geisinger Health South. Remarkably she has gained sight in her left eye and is able to follow motions, noises, and voices. Sight has accelerated her rehabilitation and she has demonstrated the ability to read. Sharon is scheduled to undergo surgery on September 27. While the surgery may be a setback to her remarkable progress in therapy, it is a necessary step forward. The continued love, prayers, support, and the strength of varied communities from Ohio to Pennsylvania have been instrumental in Sharon’s recovery.
Information for donations can be found at www.http://youcaring.com or by contacting Perry Local Schools, 4201 13th Street, S.W., Massillon, OH 44646.
Sharon Budd Canton Ohio