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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Melissa Johnson: An inspiration

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  • The words, “strong” and “obliging” are just a few of the many pleasant words that describe Melissa. She is a rare gem, quite the hero in a lot of ways. Melissa is a thirty-nine year old mother of five and a loving wife. She has a love for Black Bear Diner in Gridley where she has been a supervisor/waitress for thirteen years. She also has an admiration for the animals. Five and a half years ago, Melissa found a beagle walking alongside the road of Biggs who appeared to be lost and hungry. She put the pup in her car and took it to the Gridley Animal Shelter where she knew it would be much safer. Not long before that, Melissa had attended a program called, “Empower You”. It is a program where they teach you the power of positive thinking. Here, they dared her to do something to help her community. That is when Melissa decided to volunteer for the Gridley Animal Shelter where she feeds, cleans, plays, and walks the dogs. She works her hardest to get the animals adopted out to good homes and loving families. Two and a half years into volunteering at the shelter, Melissa was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). For those of you that aren’t familiar with the disease, it is when the immune system loses the ability to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, and so it starts attacking the normal tissues in the body. It leaves you with trouble walking, confusion, numbness, etc. It also damages brain tissue and nerve cells. Melissa has relapsing-remitting MS where she has unpredictable periods of worsening called, relapses, followed by remissions where some of the time her body goes back to functioning the way it was before. These relapses have caused four legions in her brain. These legions have taken away some of her memory and feeling in parts of her body, but that doesn’t stop Melissa. She may have lost feeling in her legs but she still gets up to take care of those animals and serve the lovely community of Gridley at the Diner. She still gets up to make dinner for her family and attend her youngest son’s football games every Friday. She is a true fighter and a perfect example of someone who is such an inspiration to the community. Melissa won’t let something like MS take away from her life. She is a lovely woman and everyone can learn something from her. I have.

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