Add To Favorites

Rainbow of Help organizes fundraiser to help local woman continue her fight

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal - 3/2/2024

Feb. 29—When Ashley Duxbury graduated from Buffalo State University in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in psychology, she planned to use it as a tool to help others.

Hoping to one day be a psychologist, the Ransomville native's specific goal is to help people with issues such as addiction and mental health.

"That's originally why I went to school was to help my older sister, who has some mental health issues and epilepsy," she said.

Her mother, Shannon, describes her daughter as a hard worker who found her name on the honor rolls and dean's lists every semester.

"Ashley has been an overachiever her entire life," Shannon said.

However, myriad auto-immune diseases have so far prevented Ashley, 31, from achieving her goal of helping others.

Last week, she underwent brain decompression surgery to alleviate symptoms of type 1.5 Chiari Malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into the spinal canal causing the skull to press downward on the brain.

In the wake of the recent surgery, local not-for-profit organization Rainbow of Help will be hosting a fundraiser to offset some of her mounting medical expenses.

While Ashley is at home recovering, it's one of the many steps in a "very bittersweet emotional journey" for her and her family.

"It's taken... at least 10 or 15 years of my life, of going to doctors and being poked and prodded and having my life filled with appointments and paperwork," she said.

While attending Buffalo State, Ashley was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, an auto-immune condition in which the body makes antibodies that attack cells in the thyroid. When lumps on her thyroid were discovered, she underwent surgery in which the left lobe of it was removed.

She was subsequently diagnosed with several other auto-immune diseases including Raynaud's disease, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

"Over time, I started going to more and more doctors and specialists. Every time I would go to an appointment, it would be a new diagnosis, and I would be there crying and leaving with more questions than answers," Ashley said.

Over the course of a few years, Ashley went from what she describes as an independent and hard working young adult to being unable to do normal daily tasks on her own, post-surgery.

"We came together as a family and...moved her in across the street from us because she needs 24-hour care, period," Shannon said.

Shannon said that money raised from the Rainbow benefit would go towards that care for Ashley and hopefully visits to the Cleveland Clinic.

"These doctors at Cleveland Clinic will look at her as a whole and not just pieces of her," she said.

"I'm too much for any one doctor," Ashley added. "No one doctor can understand me as a whole and they only see like a piece of me and they don't communicate with each other. So it's been a real fight."

Shannon said the outpouring of support from the community "has been really humbling and that's helping (Ashley) fight."

The benefit will be ongoing from 1 to 7 p.m.March 9 at the Olcott Volunteer Fire Company hall, 1679 Lockport-Olcott Road. Admission is free. Tickets for a dinner cost $10 per adult and $5 per child aged 6 to 12 years; children younger than 5 eat for free. A basket auction will also be held. All proceeds will go towards offsetting Ashley's medical expenses.

Volunteers can register to help on the day of the benefit by contacting event organizers Cindy Horner at 716-417-2656 or Antonio Conert at 716-547-1982.


(c)2024 the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, N.Y.)

Visit the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, N.Y.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.