Channel 8 has teamed up with ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition to bring you the amazing stories of six North Texans who are giving of their time despite their own hardships. All this week we will highlight our winners who are having their dreams fulfilled.
Cynthia Izaguirre reports
McKINNEY - At the age of 22, Kristen Reed has had more responsibilities and heartache than most people face in a lifetime. While she tried to focus on college, her mother was dying of Stage IV colon, liver and lung cancer.
Too sick to work, Reed's mother battled for Social Security benefits that never came. With little money and mounting medical bills, Reed and her mom were forced at one point to live in an extended-stay hotel where drug dealers and prostitutes were their neighbors.
Kristen Reed had to make a difficult choice.
"My mom, she didn't have a whole lot of money, obviously, becasue of what was going on," she said. "The only real way for us to get any more income was for me to leave school."
But in the process of dropping out of college and losing her mother, Reed remained determined to raise awareness and money for the American Cancer Society to help other people going thorugh similar circumstances.
Through her love of music, Reed has held two fundraising concerts and one auction for the ACS. She has even come up with her own organization to raise more funds for cancer patients as a tribute to her mother, who passed away last month.
"She was my best friend, and even when she was sick she was trying to take care of me when I was supposed to be taking care of her," Reed said. "I basically just really miss her."
An avid viewer of ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Reed's mother encouraged her to apply for the show's "dream edition" contest, knowing her daughter could use the $5,000 prize to help with mortgage payments and possibly as a way to get her back in school. An additional $5,000 in prize money benefits the American Cancer Society.
"When I was saying my goodbyes to my mom, I told her I won the contest," Reed said. "I saw her smile one last time."
Kristen Reed is anxious to put grief behind her and move forward with a number of charities to help raise more money for the American Cancer Society. She also hopes to get back to school next semester and pursue her business degree.
It's what her mother would have wanted.
In our next Our Neighbor report, we will highlight a woman who turned the tragic death of her son into an opportunity to help other students and military veterans in Wise County. For our grand prize winner, Helen Zimba, WFAA will host a baby shower for Bryan's House this Friday night at Victory Park.