The Who I Am Foundation unknowingly formed in our hearts the last two days of my Dad’s life. It was during this time we were allowed to place photocopied pictures of my Dad and his fabulous life in his COVID isolation room. We wanted him to see them if he opened his eyes for any reason.
These photos told his Healthcare Team the story of who he was, what he did, who we were, and what proved to be most important, his LOVE for the University of Florida Gators. Our photos, the first-ever hung in that isolation unit were as one nurse put it “a refreshing look into who someone is when they can’t speak”.
Honoring Don Serdynski
Everyone has a life story
In July of 2020, our dad, Don Serdynski, was taken to a local Emergency Room struggling to breathe with flu-like symptoms. He was immediately admitted to the COVID isolation unit and placed on a breathing machine. For over ten days he struggled alone because of the "no visitors" COVID restrictions baring everyone from visiting loved ones in Healthcare Facilities.
Due to unusual circumstances, we were allowed to go into the COVID Isolation Unit, into my dad's room, the last five days of his life. It was during this time we were allowed to hang pictures of his fabulous life along with his University of Florida Gator Football Flag in his room.
We wanted him to see them if he opened his eyes for any reason. They told the story of
who he was in his life outside of his hospital room to the Healthcare Team working to
heal him. Multiple physicians and nurses came into his room to view the photos and talk.
They shared how alone they felt at times working with hundreds of patients who could not
speak and had no visitors to speak for them, so it was difficult to connect. Our photos, the
first-ever hung in that isolation unit were as one nurse put it, “finally, a way to connect to
someone when they can’t tell us about themselves”.
On August 15th, Tim Lanier, a traveling nurse walked on the floor wearing a University of Florida
backpack. Thanks to the photos and flag in Dad's room, coworkers told him a fellow Gator was
on the floor. Tim was assigned to work with my dad because of this connection. Tim told us he
was able to talk to our dad about what he saw in the photos and Gator Football while he cared for him.
That night, Tim observed my dad rapidly declining. He determined he would not recover and called
us to come to the hospital. When Tim determined we would not make it in time he sat with my dad,
held his hand and told him he would not let a fellow Gator die alone. There is no amount of money that could replace this priceless moment. My dad did not die alone. Because of our photos and flag, he died with a fellow Florida Gator by his side talking to dad about what he saw in the photos hung around the room.
The Who Am I Foundation was formed in honor of my dad to help Healthcare Teams, like the one working with our dad, connect to their patients who can not tell their story because they are nonverbal or simply can't remember. We hope to work with all Healthcare Facilities, Assisted Living Residences, in home Caregivers, Care Managers, and Patient Advocates to provide free kits to anyone who need one.
A Tribute to Don From his Daughter, Kelly Ann Serdynski
This is a book about a young boy and his dream of flying. Follow Donald Bryan as he studies the skies, and works hard to buy his first airplane. The adventures of Donald Bryan, and his airplane Swifty, is a great story for young people who share the love of planes and flying. Donald Bryan grows up in the country with a dream. He then works hard at school, at becoming an Eagle Scout, and at work, all to buy his first airplane. The love he has for the sky, the galaxy, and this airplane Swifty, is delightful to read. A truly inspiring, and wholesome book, for everyone.
Kelly Ann Serdynski is an educator, animal educator and advocate, and an artist. She lives on her farm in West Virginia, with her husband Brent. She has 2 cats named Delilah and Jezzy. She has a 2 dogs named Shasta and Cooper. She loves traveling and observing Orcas and whales on the west coast. She loves all things about small town living. She wants to return children's books to a simpler, and more wholesome, design.