A graduate cum laude from Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross, Michaela Murphy Odone was granted both a French government and a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of Grenoble (France) and to teach English at a local lycée. In 1966 she made the list of Outstanding Young Women of America. Michaela had an important role both in developing Lorenzo’s Oil and in setting up The Myelin Project. But one of her major feats was undoubtedly to have kept Lorenzo alive and in good health all these years. She did this by focusing almost exclusively on his care. Giving up all forms of entertainment, she mastered every aspect of the disease—neurological, metabolic, and endocrinological.
The care plan she wrote was praised by all doctors who knew the case. For sixteen long years she spent interminable hours at Lorenzo’s bedside, day in and day out. Her passionate caring for Lorenzo, however, did not prevent her from answering the constant flow of questions from desperate ALD mothers all over the world. Michaela had a history of helping people in their moments of need, especially the poor and disadvantaged. During her years in the Comoros, the French-speaking island nation in the Indian Ocean, she ran an informal clinic, distributing medicines donated by charitable U.S. organizations.
With her impeccable French, she helped Augusto write the Economic Plan of the Comoros, which Augusto had been assigned to draw up under a United Nations-financed, Bank-executed project. In later years, she conceived a poem about Lorenzo and sent it to Phil Collins. He immediately wrote back asking her not to give her lyrics to anyone else because he wanted to put music to them. Phil kept his word and now the song “Lorenzo” is part of his 1996 album, “Dance into the Light.”
For her devotion to Lorenzo, Michaela was sometimes referred to as a “tiger mother.” But the word “hero” is what defines her best. Her courage, dedication, and drive had an impact not only on Lorenzo’s life but also on the lives of so very many children and their families around the world. With her delicate beauty, natural elegance, and remarkable blend of spirituality and human warmth. At Michaela’s wake in her native Yonkers, New York, an often-repeated phrase was, “They don’t make them like Michaela any more. Her husband Augusto once said that, “If during her earthly life Michaela touched the lives of countless people, her legacy of commitment, love, and compassion will continue to be an inspiration to parents of sick children for years to come.”