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Saturday, December 18, 2010


My nephew Andrew last week in Breckenridge, Colorado pictured above

This isn't the type of thing I usually post, but it is Christmas time and I guess it is putting me in a "jolly" mood.

For those that have been regular readers, this was a year of challenges for me on a couple of medical issues. I realize that comes with age for all of us, but my sister, who also played a big role in getting me through my medical issues, sent out an e-mail today that I wanted to share.

The e-mail speaks for itself, and as we try to adjust with medical issues brought on as we grow older, it is about my nephew Andrew who has had medical issues since he was about 6 months old. The surprising or inspirational part though is that sometimes I don't think he realizes that he has any medical issues. Somewhere in his first few months he contracted viral encephalitis, developed a very high fever and was taken to the hospital. He was sent home and luckily my sister persevered and wouldn't accept the explanation given by the "medical experts". I guess she is stubborn like that, I just wanted to go to bed and sleep when I was having a stroke, she forced me to go to the hospital.

Anyway, Andrew's muscle and nerve development was affected in his lower body, primarily his legs and I am not sure how the diagnosis finally came about, but I guess cerebral palsy is the general term for Andrew's development issues. Andrew is someone that has never let a "disability" keep him down. He is an excellent student, pushes himself to keep up with all the other kids and doesn't seem to look for any sympathy when he can't or when he gets tired. He is a member of the band at Enfield's Fermi High School(his freshman year now) and has also become a great skier. It took him his first few years just to be able to walk and I'm sure no one ever imagined his legs would ever be strong enough or developed enough to allow him to ski.

A couple years ago my sister got him involved in a program for disabled skiers at Mount Snow in Vermont. The program, Ability Plus, turned out to be something Andrew loved and he caught on to skiing almost immediately. Both Andrew and his parents and his younger brother Ryan all mentor other skiers now in the program. Andrew has the perfect "can-do" attitude for anyone that might be thinking that a disability will hold them back.

And speaking of his younger brother Ryan, Ryan assumed the role of "big brother" even though he is a year and a half younger. He is always there to boost his brother up when Andrew might need just a little more help to get something done. And don't even think about overlooking Andrew or trying to pretend he's not there if you think he can't accomplish something. Ryan will be the first one to yell out "hey, what about my brother?". This past Memorial Day Andrew wanted to "march" in the Enfield Parade with the rest of his band members. Ryan stepped up and pushed Andrew the entire route in his wheelchair while Andrew played the drum.

I've bragged enough, but the attached e-mail let's you know about my sister's thoughts. I guess bragging about Andrew and Ryan runs in the family. It is amazing how sometimes a 13 or 14 year old kid can bring things into perspective. (He'll be fifteen this week)


I have had several days to reflect on my son Andrew’s recent trip to Breckenridge, CO for The Hartford Ski Spectacular. It was an amazing and unexpected opportunity for Andrew and I was so excited for him to participate. After attending this event with my family and watching Andrew and the other athletes there, I wanted to take this time to thank all the family, friends and tremendous organizations that have gotten him to this point. When Andrew first became ill with encephalitis, we had no idea if or how much he would recover. When he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of six months, we watched him struggle to crawl, stand, walk and finally run in his own special way. I never imagined that he would be playing tennis with Ivan Lendl, waterskiing on Lake Zoar, playing baseball, teaching other kids how to ski at Mount Snow and downhill racing with Paralympic Olympic athletes in Colorado. He is full of surprises and I am sure there are many more to come.
Andrew worked hard in Breckenridge and I was proud of his determination and how seriously he took the training. He may not have won a medal in the race but I saw a side of him that made my heart swell with pride. We were waiting for Andrew to come down the hill to the start of the race course. It was a cold, windy, snowy day with over fourteen inches of fresh powder on the ground which was very difficult to ski through. I saw a sit skier coming down the hill fall over and there was Andrew behind her and he stopped to help her get her ski to an upright position. They struggled together and as I watched I wondered who would help Andrew get up if he fell over helping her. Obviously that didn’t cross his mind and they were able to get her upright and continued to the race course. It made me think of how much he had matured in that week. It turned out the girls name was Sarah and she had been in the same Duplex as Andrew for the week. I would like to offer a special thank you to DSUSA and The Hartford for letting us participate in this incredible event.
To all those who work and volunteer to enrich the lives of disabled individuals, I would like to say thank you! Your hard work does pay off and Andrew is proof of it. Every contact we have made has led to another contact starting with The Springfield Shriners Hospital, NEHSA, STRIDE, CHD, Leaps of Faith, AbilityPLUS at Mount Snow, Hospital for Special Care, Ivan Lendl Wheelchair Sports Camp, DSUSA, Camp Harkness, TOPSoccer, All Out Adventures, Challenger Baseball and the Enfield School System. Our lives have been enriched by these organizations and countless others. The friendships we have made will last a lifetime.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful, heartwarming story. Thanks so much for sharing!

Sue said...

Thanks so much for sharing Andrew's story. I went to Breckenridge as his coach and I can't tell you how many folks came up to me and said what a terrific kid Andrew is, what a great little skier, how polite, sweet (haha) and helpful he is! It was seriously my pleasure to go as his coach and watch him grow as a skier and a young man right before my eyes. Here's to a long run as we pursue his racing career! Sue Tatem, with AbilityPLUS

SEAN ARENA said...

I know you are a very private person, Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.So many people complain everyday about aches and pains, Yet your nephew Andrew looks
for the adventure in life.
Hopefully others will take the time to appreciate their friends and family and realize just how precious the time we are given is!
This is truly a Christmas story.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Bruce Rubenstein said...

Great story Kevin...let us all pray for Andrew and every other similiarly situated young kid.

Mike Lupo said...

Thank you for sharing a part of your personal life. Andrew's story should make us all take a moment and reflect on how each of us don't have it so bad after all. Andrew is an inspiration and should be commended for being who he is. Merry Christmas Andrew, Kevin and Family.

Anonymous said...

Negro, this is cool.

Andrew (Andres) the world is your, go for it !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Felix Natividad,