On Halloween Day 2001, Spokanes Logan Olson suffered a heart attack, then fell into a three-week-long coma that left her with brain damage and having to relearn the most basic skillsbreathing, swallowing, chewing, holding her head upright.
She was just 16 at the time, but had been born with a congenital heart defect, and her collapse came about eight months after her sixth cardiac surgery.
Now, five years after that traumatic turn of events, the bubbly North Side lass is preparing to launch a quarterly publication here named Logan Magazine thats aimed at young women like herself who have disabilities. The magazines slogan, displayed prominently at the top of its cover logo, is Because Life is Always Beautiful.
Olson says her goal, distilled from the dark struggles she has endured herself while trying to return to a semi-normal life, is simple: To inspire. I want to inspire them, encourage them, educate themall those things.
The magazine will include role-model profiles on people with disabilities who have overcome obstacles to achieve success, features on cheap chic fashions, and information about tools for living that are well-suited for people with disabilities, she says. One of the features in the first issue will be an interview with Ginny Owens, a blind Christian singer-songwriter from Nashville, Tenn., who has recorded a number of albums.
That 36-page issue is being published this month, with an initial printing of 15,000 copies, and is to be distributed to rehabilitation centers, medical clinics, doctors offices, advocacy groups, high schools, and other targeted recipients throughout the Northwest. Olson says, though, that shed like to see the magazine expand eventually to a national circulation.
For now, she is operating the publication from her parents northwest Spokane home, which has a large office space, and is using freelance writers, some of whom have disabilities. She is receiving considerable help and guidance from her mother, Laurie Olson, who describes herself as being kind of like the director, and from her grandmother, Louise Young, who now lives at the Olson home and is handling office-administrative tasks.
Also providing major support is Spokane design firm Klundt Hosmer, which created the magazines Web site and is doing the print design and layout. The magazine is being printed by Publication Printers Corp., of Denver, which also prints the 180,000-copy-a-year Spokane Regional Visitors Guide for the Spokane Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Washington state Department of Social and Health Services Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has provided about $25,000 worth of support and startup capital for Logan Magazine, but has made clear that the business venture will have to survive on its own after that money is gone, Laurie says. Before providing the financial support, the agency required Logan to develop a detailed business plan, she says.
Laurie says that she and Logan hope to hire additional employees for the magazine within the next year and expect that the publication will take three to five years to turn a profit.
Its not like were getting paid. Its the passion thats driving us right now, she says.
In the two and a half years since initial planning for the magazine started, a host of educators and business people here have helped Logan in one fashion or another to get the endeavor off the ground, she adds. That assistance has included, for example, Nordstroms donation of clothing to Logan that she wore for a photo of her that will appear on the cover of the magazines debut issue. Nordstrom also will be one of the advertisers in the magazine.
Of all the support theyve received, Laurie says, It started snowballing. Now me and Logan are just trying to keep up with the snowball.
Logan is an attractive young blonde with a svelte figure who, at a glance, shows no signs of the physical trauma her body has endured. Balance and muscle-coordination issues, however, force her to use a walker, though shes starting to transition to a cane, and she continues to suffer from other fine-motor impairment caused by sometimes garbled communication between her brain and her limbs.
Her speech also remains somewhat impaired, but is mostly intelligible, and she has problems with short-term memory, which she seeks to minimize by keeping a journal so that, as her mother puts it, she can stay in the day.
Rare heart condition
She was blue, or cyanotic, when born, and was found to have pulmonary atresia, an extremely rare heart condition in which the pulmonary valve hasnt formed properly.
The pulmonary valve is a flap-like opening on the right side of the heart that allows blood to move to the lungs. Logan also suffers from a couple of other heart malformations that, along with pulmonary atresia, are known collectively as the Tetralogy of Fallot and result in the blood not getting an adequate supply of oxygen.
She had corrective surgeries when she was six days old, then at eight months, and at ages 4 1/2, 10, and 16. After the last one, in which she received the heart valve from a pig, she improved to the point that her parents, despite strong reservations, agreed to allow her to go on a Calvary Chapel of Spokane mission trip to Russia.
Logan did fine on the trip, but suffered the heart attack just six days after her return, while walking through a haunted house in Post Falls with family members. It wasnt immediately clear what had happened to her, whether she fell and struck her head or had some other accident, but Laurie says her husband felt Logan turning cold as he started performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her.
Fortunately, an emergency medical technician and doctor were nearby, and they took over providing immediate care for her, but Laurie says, They did not think she was going to make itno way. She adds, Its a sudden death episode, is what they call it.
Logan, her eyes welling with tears as her mother reaches to comfort her, says, Its so hard to believe Im still here. Its crazy.
She was rushed to Kootenai Medical Center, in Coeur dAlene, then airlifted to Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. When she finally awoke from the coma three weeks later, she thought she was 10not 16and believed she was back living in Orange County, California, where she had spent her adolescent years before her family moved to Spokane.
It took her weeks just to learn to sit up, which initially even required tying her to a chair, and longer than that before she could focus her eyes on the people around her. Her mother says Logans brain was learning to repath.
We had to reteach her how to do her pants, her shirt, her shoes, her socks, Laurie says.
Logan spent three months at Sacred Heart, then another three months at St. Lukes Rehabilitation Institute, where she went through extensive therapy. Laurie, who provided constant support along the way, says she and Logan simply decided, Were going to live, and were going to be so thankful.
Before the heart attack, Logan was interestedlike many girls her agein makeup and trendy clothes, and her mother says she had planned on attending the Glen Dow Academy of Hair Design here.
But as Logan sought to return to a normal life in the months that followed, she and her mother were unable to find a publication that catered to young women with disabilities who need easy-to-handle beauty products.
We couldnt believe there wasnt one. Theres everything else, Laurie says.
That realization led to the initial planning for Logan Magazine. Through the publication, Laurie says, We want to tell kids, Think creative. It doesnt matter what kind of disability you have. Theres something you can always do to make life enriching.
Jill Syth, a speech pathologist at Holy Family Hospital-Northpointe who has worked extensively with Logan, says Logan has a highly supportive family that has helped her make strong personal gains.
Logans father, Tim Olson, is co-owner of Belair Composites Inc., a custom-hose manufacturer that moved here from California about 15 years ago.
Syth says also that Logan has a huge drive to be independent and a huge drive to get better and to inspire other people, and that, I think, is helping outweigh some of her limitations.
Jean Klundt, one of the principals at Klundt Hosmer, which is readying Logan Magazine for publication, says, Weve been with them (the Olson family) from the beginning. Its something I feel called to do.
She adds, Its just a fun project, and working with them has been an inspiration. Im just amazed every time we turn around, the positive feedback were getting, and the doors keep opening for them. Its kind of one of those things you dont know where it might lead, but it seems like the right thing. She (Logan) just has a light in her to me. Shes a joyful person.
Contact Kim Crompton at (509) 344-1263 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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