Family needs help to bring sick mother volunteering in Africa home

A local woman spends a decade in Africa helping thousands of children and others in need only to wind up in a coma following a serious illness.

A local woman spends a decade in Africa helping thousands of children and others in need only to wind up in a coma following a serious illness.

Her family is hoping you can join the effort to help bring her back to the U.S. for treatment.

"We feel helpless, we do," said Brianna Agnello of Royal Oak..

Agnello, 31, calls the situation she is in "impossible" desperate to get her mother, Susan Simmers, home from Africa. She learned through a Facebook message that her 55-year-old mother is in a coma overseas.

"It's a nightmare," she said. "I keep thinking I'm going to wake up from this nightmare. I want to wake up and have everything back to normal."

Agnello says her mother, founder of the Benekin Foundation, has been volunteering in Africa for the last 10 years. Simmers has been sending school supplies and even opening a medical clinic while living her dream of helping children.

"She never wants to receive anything but always wants to give," Agnello said. "She'll give her last penny. And I think at this point, she did."

Agnello says Simmers went to Cameroon Aug. 29 and through a message from a friend Sept. 15, Agnello learned her mother was in the hospital.

Agnello immediately calling the embassy and immediately, says they confirmed her fears. She says now, nearly two weeks later, she still doesn't know why.

"'Oh your mom is opening her eyes, she's moving her head back and forth,'" Agnello said. "But we don't have any documents, any vitals. How did this happen?"

Already paying thousands of dollars to ensure her mother is taken care of, Agnello says she was told it would cost roughly $130,000 to get her mother flown back in a private plane. Agnello says she's only been receiving vague, second-hand responses on how her mother is doing.

"The doctor said she was still not breathing on her own, she is on a ventilator," Agnello said. "And that her consciousness is 7 of 15."

Trying to raise money for her care and to hopefully get her home. Agnello says she's frustrated and scared. Right now, with so many unanswered questions there is one thing she does know.

"My family and I agreed that we will do anything to get her home.

There will be a fundraiser at Brady's Tavern, in Beverly Hills, Michigan on Tuesday, Sept. 27 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.  A percentage of food purchased will go to help Susan Simmers.

Or you can donate online at the family's GoFundMe page. CLICK HERE.


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