For reasons doctors have never understood, Candace Anderson’s senses abandoned her, leaving her active mind trapped in a body that can no longer do much.
She was an honor student at DeKalb County’s Chapel Hill Middle School when she started having trouble hearing. By her junior year at Columbia High School she could not hear at all and was having trouble walking. She was in a wheelchair by the time she graduated in 2001. She lost her sight while at Mercer University, where she had hopes of continuing on to medical school.
Eventually she could not move or talk, either. She became bedridden and dependent on breathing and feeding tubes. A series of articles written by AJC alumna Patti Puckett Ghezzi chronicling the young woman’s plight captured readers’ hearts. Strangers offered prayers or donations. A minister gave her a necklace with a white gold cross.
Her condition remains unchanged, and her family cares for her at home. Tests show normal brain function; Candace smiles and cries, sleeps during the day and is awake at night. Doctors remain baffled, but her family, determined to honor Candace’s love of learning, started the CAMI Foundation, which stands for Candace Anderson Mystery Illness, in her honor. It raises money for scholarships, and recently held a “Fashionista” event at the Paradise Gymnasium & Cultural Center in Forest Park.
Designer Mychael Knight of ”Project Runway” fame and music producer Christopher “Deep” Henderson served as judges while actor Keedar Whittle served as emcee, and $250 scholarships were awarded to Jessica Miller of Forest Park High School in Clayton County and Ayanna Alexis Fisher of Tri-Cities High School in Fulton County.
Additional scholarships will be awarded in May. Application information: www.camifoundation.com.