Lysa Selfon ended the summer of 1998 with an appearance on MTV, a visit from the Beastie Boys and the launch of One Little Corner, an album she helped produce.
For someone who was considered legally dead for seven minutes after she was struck by lightning at the Tibetan Freedom Concert June 13, Selfon is well on her way to recovery.
Selfon, who began her third year at GW Law School in September, said since the bolt struck her in July, she feels she has “aged one hundred years.”
“It’s like a mental war,” said Selfon, who sustained severe internal injuries and burns. “Everyday I have to fight to do everything I used to do so easily. Energy was my main source of life, but it’s just not there now like it used to be.”
Despite her fatigue, chronic pain from her shoulders to her fingertips and burns that have scarred her torso, Selfon’s recovery has been miraculous.
To thank her doctors, the 26-year-old Selfon, already co-owner of a paint-your-own pottery store in Dupont Circle called PriMUDonna, applied her entrepreneurial spirit to a new venture. Along with record producer Mitch Carr, she compiled an album featuring local bands to raise money for the Washington Hospital Burn Center’s Burning Bush Fund, which she founded. Carr and Selfon said they hope to raise between $30,000 and $50,000 from the CD sales.
“What impressed me most about Lysa was that instead of lying around being depressed, which she certainly could’ve been – considering the shape she was in – she wanted to do something to give back to the people who helped her,” said Carr, who began his label Splash Records as an outlet for his own band, Tramps Like Us. “Throughout all of this, I’ve never seen Lysa not smiling.”
Carr contacted Selfon after reading an article about her in The Washington Post.
“He had these flow charts,” she said. “I knew he would be totally organized and committed.”
Carr, who paid the initial $8,000 in start-up costs out of his own pocket, did most of the leg work for the CD, including tracking down the 11 local bands who eventually donated their studio-ready songs.
“I think we were both surprised how generous people were,” he said. In the end, One Little Corner took only one and a half months to produce. Everything from graphic design to the toll-free number to sell the CD was donated, he said.
Selfon and Carr hosted a debut party for the CD Sept. 28 at the Bayou in Georgetown. It is currently on sale in local shops, over the phone and online at www.dcsounds.com.
Selfon made her own debut in early September, returning to law school for her final year.
“It was hard,” she said. “I was worried at first that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the day.”
She also was concerned her hands would cramp when she took notes in class because her nerves were severely damaged. She said things seem to be working out so far.
“I will graduate in May and when I do, I know it will be because of all of the people who cared about me,” Selfon said. “From the law school office staff to my professors, to my parents and friends. It’s easy to tell someone that you’ll be there for them but it’s hard to be conscientious about it.”
Selfon has reduced her hours at PriMUDonna to just one or two shifts a week but said she hopes to do more as soon as she can.
The store was “an investment, so I didn’t have to give up my goal of practicing First Amendment law,” she said.
Selfon will add to her ever-growing list of undertakings. Washington Hospital Center has offered her a position on their Young Executives Board, an organization aimed at teaching hospital fund-raising skills to people in their 20s and 30s.
“I can’t wait to get started, but it does feel strange when the hospital wants to thank me for things I do,” she said. “I just keep thinking they have it backwards. They’re the ones who saved me, and I’ll be grateful to them forever.”