Candace Berens

“She’s awesome.” Candace’s mother, Peggy Russell, enjoys regular visits from her oldest daughter Candace and keeps in touch with her by phone as much as possible.

Candace is the oldest of Peggy’s four children, and was diagnosed with a case of meningitis the day after she was born. Peggy says Candace was a “little sweetheart” as a child. She was helpful with her younger brother when he was born and keeps in close touch with her sister Stacy to this day. The two are great friends and Peggy says that Stacy sometimes acts as a surrogate mother to Candace.

Peggy found great support for care and information about meningitis when Candace was young. She says the transition to school was tough for her. Candace moved to a group home when she was six or seven years old.

Debbie Aasen, former supervisor at Candace’s group home, says that even though it seems contrary to her feisty personality at times, Candace plays the peacekeeper in the home. If somebody is troubled, she’ll want to know if they need a hug. She can also be the mischievous one. She will often leap to the question, “Am I in trouble?” if someone wants to speak with her outside of her regular routine.

Candace’s intense feelings are sometimes hard to control and there are times when they tend to “snowball,” according to her Mom. At the same time, Peggy sees Candace maturing and is pleased that she is making her way in life.

Candace has found her independence. She likes to be in her own space and visits when it suits her, which is often.

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