Past Features

Summer 2019

Their daughter’s agonizing cry sliced through the silence of the night like a razor. Matt and Janeen Pietraszkiewicz were jolted awake. “It was two o’clock in the morning and it was a pitch that rattled my ears,” says Janeen. “I went into Kalei’s room and she grabbed her ankle, and was rocking back and forth. Sweat was coming down her face.”

Spring 2019

The first time Chris Loughman saw the woman who would one day be his wife it was at a popular Allentown night club. Gail Balliet was beautiful and no pushover. Chris gave it his best shot and bombed out. “I asked her for her phone number but she wouldn’t give it to me,” he says.

Spring 2019

Winter 2018

Eric Kosalko remembers walking up to a clerk in a convenience store one day when suddenly, he couldn’t talk. “I tried to tell her I wanted gas and couldn’t get the words out,” says Eric. “The people in line looked at me as if I was drunk.”

Fall 2018

Summer 2018

Watch the video "Lewy's Story" on Facebook or go to the SweetCharityOnline video library.

Spring 2018

Mike Cessnun was in trouble. It was 5 a.m. on January 26, 2012, and he was alone in his Seattle, Washington apartment when he had a stroke. “I couldn’t move my left arm or leg,” says Mike. “My father had a stroke so I kind of recognized the symptoms. I guess I assumed that’s what it was.”

Independence. It’s something that most people take for granted. Independence is a beautiful thing, especially for someone like me living with cerebral palsy. I’ve fought to be independent my whole life. In fact, I was born fighting just to survive.

Winter 2018

Carol Mark is turning 75, and she’s spending her birthday doing something that literally is near and dear to her heart. Sitting in a dimly-lit room Carol holds six-month-old Ella Tuggle close against her chest and gently rocks the tiny baby girl. The look on Carol’s face, and on Ella’s face too, is one of pure joy and contentment.

Five years after a diving accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, Michaela Devins did something she thought was forever lost to her.

Watch a video of Michaela walking in the EksoGT.

Update: Thanks to all our wonderful donors we met the Year-End Gift Challenge and raised $88,385 for the Ekso Wellness Fund. Thank you all for this extraordinary achievement!

Tara Ringer was getting worried. Very worried. Several hours ago on a rainy Saturday last May, her 25-year-old daughter Maura had called saying she was leaving her Brooklyn, New York, apartment to come home for an early Mother’s Day visit.

Fall 2017

Twice, the United States came to the rescue of Hysen Hamzaj’s family. The first time was in 1999 when family members immigrated to the U.S. from Macedonia as refugees from the Kosovo War. The second time was in 2016, when doctors saved the lives of his wife, Magbule, and their infant son, Aron, who was born prematurely. It was, says Hysen, a miracle.

Summer 2017

It was a conversation no parent wants to have. There was the familiar ring of the doorbell announcing a visitor, but when Helene Pheiffer went to answer, it was not a friend come to call, it was a policeman with sickening news.

“Do you have a daughter who drives a blue Chevy Cavalier?” he asked. There had been  an accident.

Four years ago, Jackie Quinton, then 51, was living a full and busy life as a Zumba instructor and receptionist when she had a stroke. But during Jackie’s recovery, something quite extraordinary developed: a newfound artistic talent for coloring and painting.

Spring 2017

When Marissa Shannon holds her baby Bryce, she’s holding more than her child, she’s holding a pint-sized fighter. A triplet born at just 29 weeks, Bryce had more obstacles to overcome than his sisters, Reese and Kelsie, and spent five weeks in the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Emily Howatt Pliskatt Pediatric Unit learning how to do something that comes naturally to most babies: eat.

One day Irene Jones was fighting the flu. The next day she was fighting for her life. Read how the team at the Good Shepherd Specialty Hospital pulled her through.

Summer 2016

Watch the video.

Spring 2016

April 2016

(Ed's Note: Shortly after this article appeared in the Spring issue of Sweet Charity magazine, Chuck Pliskatt passed away. His gift, in tribute to his wife Emily Howatt Pliskatt, will live on in perpetuity.)

Ten years ago, a brutal assault left Jose Perez with a devastating brain injury. Since then, pain has been a near constant companion for the 47-year-old resident of the Good Shepherd Home at Conrad W. Raker Center who now speaks in halted sentences and  relies on a wheelchair for mobility.

Bob Geisinger was on fire. His face. His hands. His upper body. Flames were searing his skin, blinding him as he frantically looked for a way out of the building where he worked.

Vanessa Gearhart was running late. The traffic on her way home from Wilkes College where she was a freshman was especially bad. Now, as she left her house in Snydersville that November afternoon in 2012 for her job as a sales associate at a jewelry store in the mall, she wanted to make up for lost time.

“Get a bird in the air! Get a bird in the air!”
The emergency room nurse bolted out of the treatment room, her voice crisp with urgency as she called for a MedEvac helicopter. Her clipped tone left no doubt that this was a matter of life and death for six-year-old Annabella Story who lay unresponsive on the table.
Spring had arrived. The brutal winter of endless snow and cold was over, and that was reason enough for Todd and Christine Husser of Bethlehem to celebrate. On Sunday, June 8, 2014, they were heading home after an ice-cream run to McDonald’s when Christine’s right hand started to tingle. By the time they arrived home, Christine could barely get out of the car.
Fall 2014
When Tara Webb learned in the summer of 2012 she was pregnant, the 35-year old mother of three was overjoyed. Her husband, Chris, was equally thrilled, and the couple began planning for the newest addition to their young family. 
Patrick Champagne lived life at 150 mph. Competitive by nature, the Emmaus High School varsity swimmer spent up to 15 hours a week in practice. And when he wasn’t swimming, he was immersed in his studies which included advanced classes in European history and calculus.

By Dave Fessler

There are two kinds of people in this world; those who look at life as a glass-half-full and those who look at life as a glass-half-empty. I fall into the first category, which is a good thing since life, as I knew it, took a hairpin turn almost two years ago, challenging me in ways I never would have imagined.

The photograph clinched it. The woman in the photo smiling back at Christine Wilshire weighed more than 400 pounds. She was pre-diabetic and on a collision course to a raft of other health problems if she didn’t do something about it.

Click here to see John's video message to donors.


He likes to send handwritten notes of appreciation to employees. He blogs. He understands that Twitter has nothing to do with birds and everything to do with reaching new audiences. And his iPhone is always close at hand, an indispensable tool.

After 16 years at the helm, Good Shepherd President and CEO Sally Gammon is retiring. A look at many of the organization's milestones since her arrival

March/April 2013

On a bitter cold February morning, Tamisha Walker huddled at a bus stop, chatting with three other young women. The conversation ranged from Facebook to favorite books and movies. Tamisha, like so many teen-agers, is a huge “Twilight” fan having read every book in the series. “We’re like penguins,” the 16-year-old joked.

January/February 2013

When Talon Troxel was three, he went from having a vocabulary of 500 words to zero, and refused to eat just about anything put in front of him. When his younger brother, Caden turned three, he too developed speech and feeding problems, and a raging temper that lashed out like a rattlesnake 60 to 80 times a day. The boys were both diagnosed with forms of autism. Caden was also diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder which was causing his tantrums and Talon with Sensory Processing Disorder.

March/April 2012

A touch of the finger on a computer screen. A command, made only with the eyes. For children with physical and cognitive disabilities, such movements, sometimes more easily achieved than others, are opening up whole new worlds of communication and access to learning that decades ago were only dreams.

January/February 2012

License to Live

The first day of November 2011 dawned crisp and clear. Jordan Christman, 19, roused himself and dressed for what would be a full morning. By 8:15 a.m., the lanky teen was at Good Shepherd’s Health & Technology Center in Allentown for an evaluation and training in preparation for his driver’s license test later in the week.

November/December 2011


Christmas Day 2009. Ron Moyer and his wife Lin were heading home to East Stroudsburg after visiting a friend in a hospital when Ron started getting chills. He chalked it up to the onset of the flu, something that hit him every year around the same time.

September/October 2011

Little Emaline Musson from Bozeman, Montana, has come a long way at a very young age. The captivating one-year-old, whose parents traveled cross-country for help, came to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit listless and largely unresponsive. But despair turned to celebration. After six weeks at the pediatric unit, Emaline went home. 

July/August 2011

Alyssa Armstrong was always one of those kids who pushed the envelope. Vibrant and athletic, she was a fearless soccer player and constantly on the go with her friends.

So it was not surprising that on a cold day in February 2010, Ally was up for a sledding expedition with her pals. The conditions were right and everyone was in high spirits. One hill in particular caught Ally’s attention. It was steep but not impossible. Other kids were sailing down it so why not her?

April 2011

(Pediatric nurse Jamie Zanelli, RN, shares her thoughts on the care and progress of Wes Schlauch who was featured in the May/June 2011 issue of Sweet Charity .)

March/April 2011

He was only 19, but Tommy Slattery had plans. He was working in his father’s plumbing and heating business, and was scheduled to start classes at Lehigh Carbon Community College that would further his knowledge and skills in that profession.

January-February 2011

For 12 years,  Patti O’Donnell was  an Irish step dancer, schooled in the art of  intricate foot and leg work, executed with razor-sharp precision. A gifted athlete, she ran track and cross-country, logging her best time for the 800-meter  sprint (half a mile) at  2 minutes, 15 seconds.