• Last modified 131 days ago (March 7, 2024)


Author teaches kids to be kind

Staff writer

Hillsboro author Debbie Oelke is on a mission to teach children about people with disabilities.

Her most important lesson: be kind.

Oelke read her first children’s book, “I Wish I Could Stand Up,” to children and adults Saturday at Hillsboro Public Library.

The book is the first in a series, “Be Kind: Understanding Disability.”

Oelke talked about changes she faced after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 25.

She did not experience any disability for the next 18 years, but when disability began, its progression was rapid. She quickly lost the ability to stand and walk.

“I’ve been sick for a really long time,” her book states. “MS makes my body weak. I am not able to walk. I can barely feel my feet. I wish I could stand up, but I can’t.

The book, illustrated by Hannah Kliewer, shows Oelke doing everyday tasks from her electric wheelchair.

“God made me for a reason,” another portion of the book says. “I trust whatever he plans. His ways don’t make sense to me, but He’s got me in his hands. I wish I could stand up, but I can’t.”

Adults in the audience Saturday asked her how she could drive. She talked about modifications to her car. The driver’s seat was removed and speed and brake controls were changed to be operated by hand.

Books were available for purchase and signing.

“I Wish I Could Stand,” is Oelke’s second book. It was released Feb. 1.

Her first book is “Still Standing: Hope Beyond Disability.”

In that book, she chronicles her struggles with increasing disability and questions about why she had to deal with multiple sclerosis and why God allowed this to happen to her.

Last modified March 7, 2024