For the month of Thanksgiving I want to express thanks for people, stories, and incidents that have inspired or impacted my life in a positive way. My niece once posted the question, “What inspires you?” My mind was barraged with a number of different inspirational heroes and heroines.
But children came first to my mind. Children know how to find joy and play even through many hardships. Children in poverty stricken areas, or facing disease processes often show how unbelievably brave and adaptable they can be.
Yes, they have bad days, when they cry and resist what has to be done but they wake up each day and go on to what their day has to bring. Sometimes their will to live or even to endure comes from their parents or whomever is parenting them.
I know a young man, named Isaac, who just turned 13 recently who has bravely faced so much pain and mobility restrictions due to cerebral palsy. He has had multiple surgeries to lengthen or loosen tendons in his joints; repair a fractured hip; injections to promote growth and weight gain; admissions to the hospital, and intravenous catheters to give him medicines and fluids, not to mention the doctor appointments and physical therapy sessions in between.
Yet even from a very young age Isaac loves to wink and smile at the people, especially the ladies, who take care of him and any one else he engages with, whether they are about to give him a potentially painful treatment or therapy or not. And believe me he can light up anyone’s day with that smile!
His grandmother, who cares for him, has provided him with amazing adventures. She involves him in groups, which help him and other children like him, experience the fun and adventurous experiences many kids never dream of doing.
My young friend has actually ridden a surfboard in the shallow waters of the ocean. He always has a life jacket and a helper with him. Just look at that smile!
Isaac plays Buddy Sports in his wheelchair (baseball, indoor soccer & football). When he plays baseball, his “designated runner”pushes him in his wheelchair around the bases.
Since July 2017 Isaac and his athletic partner, Joey, have run in many races. Joey has pushed Isaac in his special, aerodynamic wheelchair in 1 Jr. triathlon, (in Harnett County); 2 5-K races; 2 triathlons; at least 2 marathons; 11 half marathon’s; and multiple 10k’s. (And in all sorts of weather.)
He also participates in the Special Olympics Torch Run through the county. This past July they started an annual Isaac Spirit Award in Anderson Creek named for Isaac. In January he will travel to Holden Beach for a half-marathon with Joey and Isaac’s grandmother. There are more events planned for next year too! Just look at his upraised arm and huge smile!
Because of his enormous smile of joy and friendship; his contagious enthusiasm, and his wholehearted participation in all of these activities he is an inspiration for others with similar issues to participate too.
This young man has been volunteering at Methodist College for the past two years to give physical therapy students a live patient. They can better learn about range of motion: patients with cerebral palsy; how to use a wheelchair during transfers; what wheelchair parts can be removed and how and more.
I have been so inspired by this young man for the last 6 years. It is not easy to have had all the pain and surgeries and frustrations that Isaac has had and emerge a loving, sweet tempered, happy young man. Yet something, some spark of hope and strength, drove him to overcome what was possible to overcome and to live with what he can do.
His grandmother encourages and supports him in all of these activities. She is also an advocate helping other mothers see what their children can achieve. She wants to make his life and the lives of other children be an example of their potential in spite of their limitations.
Isaac and others like him inspire me to face my own personal aches and pains with more grace and endurance. Isaac is one amazing young teenager!!