A mother once called into PBS, inquiring as to whether Mr. Rogers would send a signature to her daughter. She was experiencing seizures and was set to have brain surgery.
When Fred Rogers caught wind of it, he flew in to see her in the hospital. When Beth Usher was in kindergarten she had her first seizure. Specialists couldn’t find the issue and ended up sending Beth home.
A few days passed, and Beth had another seizure, and another, and another. Soon, she was having them more often. Eventually, she had around 100 seizures every single day. She was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disease that affects one half of the brain.
Miraculously, during the 30 minutes when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood broadcasted, Beth never had any seizures.
“I found his voice comforting. I felt like he was talking to me and nobody else,” Beth told WUSA 9.
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Prior to surgery that included removing portions of Beth’s brain affected by the disease, her mom Kathy contacted the Mister Rogers Neighborhood studio and talked with the secretary, explaining the circumstance and inquiring as to whether she could get a autographed copy of Mr. Rogers’ picture for Beth.
In less than an hour, the secretary got back to her with a very special message.
“‘Will you be home this evening at 7? Mr. Rogers would like to call and speak with Beth,'” the secretary told Kathy. “He called, and I said to Beth, ‘Beth… there’s a friend on the phone for you.'”
Beth ended up spending over an hour on the phone with Mr. Rogers.
“I told him things I hadn’t told my mom or dad. I told him about the surgery and how I thought I might die,” said Beth. “It was like talking to an old friend.”
On February 4, 1987, Beth went through a 12 hour medical procedure to eliminate the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially following the surgery, she was fine. But then things took an unexpected turn, and she slipped into a deep coma.
“Mr. Rogers would call the hospital every day to check up on me,” said Beth. “When he found out I wasn’t improving, he decided to make a trip.”
Beth’s nurses and family remained nearby in the doorway watching as Rogers removed his puppets from his suitcase.
“He gave Beth her own private show,” said Kathy.
Not too long after Mr. Rogers visit, Beth woke up, surrounded by family and friends, and when Mr. Rogers called that day, Kathy let him know the uplifting news.
He responded in a most respectable way saying, “Praise God.”
Beth and Mr. Rogers’ friendship went on as the years passed, and he always made sure to call Beth on her birthday faithfully until the day he passed away in 2003.
What an amazing story going beyond Rogers, and showing true human compassion from one to another! More about Mr. Rogers for our younger fans includes facts such as he was green-red color blind, which is funny enough if you consider those were the colors he mostly wore. His mother hand knit all his sweaters, one of which is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution. Some of the puppets he used in the show were named after his real life family and friends, and two named ‘McFeely,’ his mothers maiden name. His entire show ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ can be found on Amazon Prime to stream, and it’d only take a little over 18 days to marathon them all. He will always be remembered as a kind and caring individual who did many-many more positive things then what’s listed here.