BENEFITING: Perkins School For The Blind
ORGANIZER: Perkins School For The Blind
EVENT: 2016 Boston Marathon
EVENT DATE: Apr 18, 2016
On March 31, 2006 our son Eric was born at Bethesda National Naval Medical Center. After being told everything was perfect for the previous nine months, our world was soon flipped upside down. Just twelve hours after birth, Eric stopped breathing and was rushed into the neonatal ICU. After nine days of testing, we learned Eric had been born with a rare condition known at the time as Septo-Optic Dysplasia, causing him to be completely blind and unable to produce life sustaining hormones.
At just twenty three years old, Becky and I were just learning to take care of ourselves, never mind another human life. We had been preparing our home, lives, and expectations on raising a “typical” child. None of our preparation could have equipped us for this. Not once had we even considered the thought of having an “atypical” child. None of the books we had read went over anything like this.
As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, I was also leaving a short month later. You see, Becky and I were a dual-military family. She was an active duty Airman, stationed just outside Baltimore, Maryland, while I was a reserve Marine in the same area. On May 1st of that year, I was activated to prepare for my second deployment to Iraq, leaving Becky to work and care for Eric on her own, ten hours away from any family who could help.
Luckily, the Air Force took pity on us and discharged Becky so she could care for Eric. As I watched from afar, Becky and Eric moved back to our home in Methuen. Becky began working tirelessly to find whatever resources she could to assist with raising and teaching Eric. She quickly found Early Intervention who urged her to contact Perkins School for the Blind for support. Not three months after being born, Eric and Becky were introduced to Rose, a Teacher for the Visually Impaired who conducted home visits. Through Rose’s tough love and support, we began to learn how to navigate our world as the parents of a child who was blind.
During this same time period, we began a Perkin’s sponsored parents’ support group. The parents we met during this time helped us through the grieving process many fathers and mothers of special needs parents go through. We have watched many of their children grow and thrive through the past nine years and are grateful for lifelong friendships made.
At three years of age, Eric transitioned into the Early Learning Center at Perkin’s Watertown Campus. We were quickly introduced to Perkin’s mission to prepare children and young adults who are blind with the education, confidence and skills they need to realize their potential. The teachers, aids, and specialists in the ELC taught Eric his first use of sign language. A skill that would improve his life greatly as he slowly lost the ability to verbally communicate.
Currently, Eric is a nine year old at Perkin’s Lower School. His most cheerful and proudest moments are spent doing his happy dance and navigating his way through campus, sometimes backwards, with the use of his white cane.
I am training to run as a member of Team Perkins during the 2016 Boston Marathon® to raise funds to support Perkins' programs and services on campus, in the community and around the world. All funds raised will be used to help children and young adults who are blind reach their full potential.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. –Helen Keller