About Diane

Diane Kovaleski is a 33-year-old resident of Mountaintop and mother of a 5-year old daughter named Zayda. She and her family had their world turned upside down on September 25, 2007. She was having surgery at Hershey Medical Center to remove a tumor from her optic nerve behind her left eye when she suffered a massive brain hemmorage, causing a servere stroke and leaving Diane in a coma. Doctors at Hershey told her family that she would probably not live through the week and, if she did, she would most likely remain in a vegetative state. They tried to convince the family to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order and discussed the option of discontinuing life support. But they knew that Diane was a fighter and would not give up on her so easily.

Diane spent about 3 weeks in the ICU at Hershey before she was stable enough to be moved to Mercy Special Care Hospital in Nanticoke. Although still in a coma, Diane seemed to react favorably to conversation and especially to the sound of Zayda’s voice. In November, she was moved to The Guardian nursing facility in Nanticoke where she finally awoke from her coma. On November 16th, she communicated for the first time by giving a “thumbs up” and saying “I love you” to her father and “hi mom” over the phone to her mother. Over the ensuing months, Diane slowly progressed to the point that she was eligible for the intensive therapy program of John Heinz Institute in Wilkes-Barre, where she began in February, 2008.

On April 5th, 2008, Diane was released from Heinz to her family home in Mountaintop where she continued to recover. She can now sit up on her own, stand with support and take a few steps with a lot of help. Her left side is strong and she has regained use of her left arm and leg. The right side is the side most affected by the stroke and it is still very painful and stiff but she is able to move her right arm and leg on her own and her range of motion and strength are steadily improving. Her speech has been profoundly affected as well since the left frontal lobe of the brain controls communication skills. She still is not initiating conversation, but she responds to questions posed to her and her answers are appropriate most of the time. She can finish song verses if you give her the first few words of the verse, she can recite her address, phone number and the pledge of allegiance when you give her a cue. She is becoming more and more aware of her surroundings every day. She is still not back to her old self, but she as long as she is making progress, there is hope that she will be independent again with the proper nurturing and time. She remembers her friends and family and enjoys visits with her daughter Zayda the most!

About Dollars for Diane

Dollars for Diane was conceived, planned, organized, and coordinated by Tammy Gluck who is a life long friend of Diane and her family. The original Dollars for Diane Benefit Concert was held at Ole Tyme Charlie’s in Plains, Pa. on October 28, 2007, barely a month after Diane’s tragic stroke. The event itself was a stellar success as far as sponsorship, participation, and entertainment and was coordinated along with several raffles and the launching of this site and a dedicated MySpace page for online donations. Combined, this effort has raised thousands of dollars that has helped finance Diane’s medical care, including her COBRA payments to keep her insurance going and has helped keep the medical bill collectors at bay since insurance just doesn’t cover everything she needs.

The next major fundraising event was a Road Rally and Concert held on Sunday, May 18, 2008, with the concert held at Outsiders Saloon in Wilkes-Barre. Although inclement weather played a factor in participation and ultimately funds raised, this event was noteworthy in that Diane herself was able to attend for a short time.

The most recent benefit concert was the Dollars for Diane 33 Benefit Concert that was held on Sunday, January 31, 2010 at Ole Tyme Charley’s in Plains, Pa. There was entertainment provided by a wide range of artists including Animal Society, Rhyne McCormick, Pan.a.ce.a, Scott Erikson, The Traveling Wilkes-Barrians, and Gone Crazy. There were also door prizes and chance prizes for attendees. This benefit concert was coupled with the release of Dollars for Diane 33, a compilation CD of original music by Pennsylvania artists. Combined, these two raised nearly $2000 split between The Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania and a scholarship fund for Diane’s young daughter, Zayda.