Thursday, June 21, 2012

Eliminating Limitations

Last February Evan brought a paper dove home from school.  It was in honor of Martin Luther King Day.  The students thought about what they dreamed about and wrote it on the dove. 
On the front I read Evan’s distinct handwriting, “I have a dream…”.  I flipped it over to the back and read, “…that one day I will be able to run around outside.”

My heart jumped into my throat as I read those words.  Evan was feeling the limitation of all our good intentions to keep him safe.  It isn’t that he can’t or doesn’t run around at all outside.  He runs around on grassy yards just fine.

In order to keep Evan safe, we have to protect him from falls on asphalt and rough terrain. The recess playground is made up of asphalt and rough ground, not to mention slippery spots in the winter.  Falling is a daily concern for Evan and he has taken some whoppers.  Falls requiring stitches and other gashes that probably could have used stitches but I didn’t want to expose him to the germs in the ER during cold and flu season.  He has knocked out teeth and knocked himself unconscious.  Part of the problem is that his hands and arms lack the mobility needed to catch himself and his head is large for his petite body.

Recess at school (especially in the winter) is usually spent playing games (that don’t involve running on asphalt, rough terrain, or ice) with friends.  Clearly Evan wants to be running.  But he understands he needs to be safe at school.

Evan is getting the chance to run this summer.  Our yard has become his own personal track.  And, he is playing on the Miracle League Baseball Team.  The Miracle League of Green Bay gives hundreds of disabled children the chance to play baseball.  The field is made of rubber – providing an incredible opportunity for kids with disabilities to run with abandon and not have to worry about getting hurt on rough terrain.

Last week was Evan’s first game.  He hit the ball on the first try each inning!  He ran from base to base.  He caught a ball in the outfield and threw it to the pitcher. To make this even more incredible, he was recovering from major abdominal surgery that he had just had eight days earlier.

I was hesitant to actually let him play, let alone run, in the baseball game.  He had been recovering from surgery on the couch until now.  But nothing could keep him away from this game.  He missed the first two games because of a bowel obstruction, hospitalization, and surgery.  So I relented and allowed him to go to the game as long as he agreed to take it easy, walk the bases, and let me hold his hand. 

He started the game at a slow pace, as agreed, allowing me to hold his hand.  But at the third base of the final inning Evan looked at me intently, stretched his arms out emphatically towards me and said, “Mom, don’t hold my hand.  I want to run to home base all by myself.  I can do it.  I’ll be careful. I won’t fall.  I promise! You have to let me do it by myself.”

How could I say anything but, “Okay.  Go for it.”

The batter up hit the ball and Evan took off running, swinging his arms, tall with pride.  He glowed with the thrill of jumping on home base as the announcer called out “Evan Meder, Tigers 14, makes it to home base!”  No falls, one home run, and the joy of triumph.

Evan wants to run, jump, swim, bike, and play baseball just like all his friends do.  He wants to feel the thrill of pushing himself physically, the achievement of new skills and the satisfaction of an ever increasing endurance.  As parents and caregivers of children with special health care needs we encourage, assist, protect, and sometimes throw caution to the wind. 

1 comment:

mamahubbard said...

I am so glad you decided to sign him up! I remember telling your husband and you about it a few years ago, and you have now come so far in helping him find his freedoms! Miracle League is so awesome, and I have seen the utmost joy on the childrens' faces each game we go to every single year. A newer group to our area, that we are just exploring with our son, is MyTeam Triumph. I recommend you check it out. While the "captains" don't get to be too physically active in this, they do get to participate in events that they otherwise would probably never be able to do. Our son, while not as physically limited as others, wants to be able to "do" like your Evan wants to "do". Jonny was not too excited at first about joining the group, but after trying a marathon under his own steam with Mom along for backup, he realized that as much as he wanted to do it himself, he would be ok with just being a participant, being helped on with more able bodied helpers. MyTeam Triumph participated in the Bellin Run this year with a record number of teams, 18! They, like the Miracle League, are great programs to help those who can't do as much as others. When you are ready, I am sure you will look into it, just like you did with the Miracle League. Can't wait to see you at the ball field!