Breea Renee, 18, is once again facing the challenge of a lifetime that makes you wonder how someone so young is coping.
In 2000 she and her mother Michelle Renee, a bank manager at the time, were held hostage by three masked gunmen for 14 hours at their home in Vista. Explosives were tied to their body .
Michelle was forced to rob the bank where she worked.
They thought they were going to die.
Having survived that, they both are dealing with another life-threatening crisis.
According to her mother, Breea woke up one morning in December 2011 feeling clumsy.
By evening she was paralyzed on her left side and partially blind in her left eye.
By morning she was unable to speak or swallow. The diagnosis: Acute onset of Multiple Sclerosis. Now Michelle must care for her daughter, a senior at La Costa Canyon High, full-time. Breea is wheel-chair bound.
At first, Breea was understandably devastated, her mother said.
“Why me?” her daughter cried.
But within a couple of weeks, Breea stopped feeling sorry for herself .
With the same resilience that helped her cope with the hostage situation, she said, “Giving up on my dreams is not going to do me any good.”
Now, Michelle must devote all of her time caring for her daughter.
“In one day their life was forever altered in a way that most of us can’t imagine, “ says Michael Tostado who is organizing a Feb. 11 fundraising event at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.
Michelle who also founded Rock to Stop Violence, an organization that combines her love of motorcycles, music and fashion to promote non-violence must rely on family, friends and even strangers to help them through this crisis.
She says they’ve received no financial aid and insurance is slow to reimburse them.
They’ve had to stay with friends because Breea cannot climb the stairs in her home and there is no bathroom downstairs.
Breea’s wry sense of humor is getting them both through, Michelle said.
“The kidnapping was like eating a cupcake compared to this," Breea told her mom the other day. "This is the challenge of my life. “