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Couple spend Thanksgiving giving back
By Sue Ter Maat | Daily Herald Staff

Cassie Stanley, an Elburn woman who received a double lung transplant last year, was at Lutheran General Hospital with her fiancee Nick Gore, to help deliver Thanksgiving meals to families. Patient Javier Sotelo of Des Plaines gets the high-five.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Cassie Stanley, an Elburn woman who was treated at Lutheran General Hospital last year, returned Thursday to help serve Thanksgiving dinners. She is greeted by Dr. Gabriel Aljadeff.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Cassie Stanley of Elburn and fiancee Nick Gore of Bartlett were at Lutheran General Hospital Thursday to help deliver Thanksgiving meals. She stops to give a hug to Magie Weides.


Daniel White | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/28/2008 12:00 AM

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Bartlett High School sweethearts Cassie Stanley, 23, and Nick Gore, 24, spent Thanksgiving Day serving turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes to sick kids at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

It was similar replay of last year's Thanksgiving for the couple, but in that case, they were on the other side of the turkey dinner.

Exactly a year ago, Stanley was near death, unable to breathe on her own due to cystic fibrosis, a disease she was diagnosed with shortly after birth.

As Gore waited by her bedside, a volunteer from the charity group, Peanut Butter & Jelly for Children, Inc., delivered him a plate of food.

Now that Stanley is in full recovery after an emergency double lung transplant, the newly-engaged couple wanted to show the same kindness.

So, Peanut Butter & Jelly, got its efforts repaid by the pair, who volunteered their time.

"This is our way of giving thanks to everyone who helped us," said Stanley, who lives in Elburn.

The laughter and high spirits of the couple Thursday was in stark contrast to a year ago when Stanley almost died.

She was sick with cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease where a faulty gene produces thick, sticky mucus in the lungs, making it difficult to breath.

Stanley's disease had gotten progressively worse. Unable to breath, she was checked into the hospital with a dire prognosis. Doctors told her family she needed a lung transplant immediately.

"It was the most intense period of my life," Gore said. "I didn't know what was going to happen."

She was transferred to another hospital where she received a double lung transplant, which came almost too late.

"They wheeled her to surgery and I saw her. She was so blue. Doctors told us her lungs were filled with pneumonia and in really bad shape," Gore said. "I started sobbing because I thought that would be the last time I'd ever see her again."

But now the couple have a lot of celebrate.

On Thanksgiving morning, Gore proposed to Stanley by putting on her dog a homemade T-shirt that said, "Will you marry me?"

The wedding will take place some time in 2010, she said.

"I am still counting my blessings," Stanley said. "I have a lot of be thankful for."