A message from Joyce: For years, friends have suggested I write a book. They felt we had so much to share that would help other young families. Although I agreed and wanted to share what we have learned from our experiences to help others, a book seemed so formal. Then someone suggested blogging. It seemed like a better fit for my writing style, but being a near fifty something, it was not in my repertoire of acquired skills. So I needed to do some research.
I started by looking at other blogs, mostly about Down syndrome. Then one night I came across a very dear couple who inspired me so. I spent a few hours reading every entry that had been lovingly written by this young mother. The faith and wisdom they shared was clearly years beyond their chronological age. I was also in awe of Kristen's talent for knitting and seeing the collection of darling hats she was preparing for the much anticipated arrival of her baby girl. Once their daughter entered the world, I was mesmerized by her adorable charm. I was touched by the way they were dealing with the challenges they were encountering.
Yet what truly took me to my knees was the day that Kristen described how her husband had hung an OSU flag in the ICU during one of his daughter's many hospital stays. "So what," you might say. We all do crazy things during those long and stressful days. Ahh...but you see, he did this in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There is no greater college rivalry than between The Ohio State University and that school up north. I instantly knew there was something truly special about a daddy who was able to proudly wear his scarlet and gray while depending on the medical expertise at the University of Michigan Hospital to save his daughter's life.
Shortly after reading this, our blog went live. Sarah quickly became more and more involved and she too fell in love with this little girl. I will never forget the day we opened her blog and Cayman was wearing a scarlet and gray outfit. Sarah squealed with delight. She had just found another Ohio State fan. As I read through the words Kristen had written that day, I realized we had definately found another family equally obsessed with Buckeye fever.
To be honest, my appreciation for big ten football is newly defined. During my years at Ohio State I was working on two degrees, I had a field placement downtown during the day and worked as the house manager at the battered women's shelter in Columbus during the midnight to 8:00 AM shift. I rarely slept, except on Saturday. Each week on that one day, I closed the blinds to the daylight hours and quickly slipped into dreamland. Truthfully, I would not have been able to tell you when home football games were scheduled.
Fast forward to the spring of 2005. The College of Social Work from which I graduated, hired Bill Meezan as it's new Dean, oddly enough from the University of Michigan. He and Jennifer Heller the Director of Development set out to establish a Dean's Development Circle and drove to Cleveland to visit with me. I'm not sure how my name surfaced, but I'm guessing because at the time I was listed as the Executive Director of the American Heart Association which in the world of not-for-profits means I had some experience with fund raising. In fact though, I had left that job to work with my husband to expand our medical billing business and be able to spend more time with Sarah and our boys. I did however, agree to serve on the committee and that one decision has opened doors I never dreamed possible.
For any family with a child with special needs, particularly medical challenges, there is often a social worker involved. That person helps to navigate the murky waters involved with durable medical equipment, waivers, funding and family support. And we are no exception. So in honor of Sarah's 18th Birthday, we created an endowed scholarship that will go to a social worker each year committed to the field of developmental disabilities.
So how does this all relate? Simple. When we established the scholarship our sole purpose was to help others, forever, which is why it is endowed. We soon found out it made us a part of a special group, not one we set out to be a part of, but one that does have it's benefits: ie. football tickets.
Unlike me, John has been a die-hard fan from his early years. After graduating in 1983, he faithfully followed each game on the television or the radio. Every now and then he was able to get to a game with one of his sons. But the day he was able to take his daughter, his medically fragile baby girl, to her first game will forever be etched in his mind. In September 2007, John and Sarah walked through the gates of the Horseshoe, hand in hand, smiles beaming from ear to ear.
The following September I was able to repeat the experience. I can't really describe it. Walking into a stadium with 105,000 plus fans all dressed in scarlet and gray is exciting. Yet doing it with a child that has overcome significant medical challenges, is exhilarating. It simply takes your breath away.
The Circle of Life. That's what comes to mind when I think of that first visit from Bill and Jennifer. Because they extended an invitation to be involved, John and I have these memories to last a lifetime. And we have been given an even greater gift, the ability to share our tickets so others too can experience the thrill, the exhilaration. This past Saturday, The Beautiful Cayman Cindy and her parents were able to sit in our seats. As I watched the memories unfold in this extraordinary video Kristen created, tears were flowing down my checks. Tears of joy all because two moms blog. Indeed, the Circle of Life.
An addendum. Kristen too wrote about what I wrote about. I believe we were both equally touched by how wonderfully life works. To read her entry click here.