The most amazing thing happened!
I haven’t written a lot in this blog about my kids – because that’s not the purpose of the blog and I don’t want to use their personal lives as fodder for business or for others. My wife also has concerns about creepy people out there. But I can’t hold this back.
Those of you who know me, family, friends, colleagues and clients, those with whom I have worked, who have heard me speak, or have read my newsletters and blog over the years, know about my daughter Alyssa, who has cerebral palsy. I wrote last year about how she had started to walk in a walking frame, while rigged up with her orthotics.
Alyssa turned 8 years old mid-May. A couple of weeks later, she actually took two quick, surprising steps by herself – kind of falling towards a spot. And then two weeks later again, on June 10 last week, this happened at her school:
(Click here if video does not appear above)
This is the first time she has walked by herself!
It is a miracle in progress that she is able to do this. You probably have to know her in full to deeply appreciate why and how much. Her excited helpers, and my eldest daughter who was at school (daughter #2 was home sick), were able to show me after school that day, when she walked again in the school office in front of me – all by herself!
In the video, her aides are giving her the plastic piping and baton to help her get a sense of balance and to help her feel like she has a hold of something. It’s like a tightrope walker holding a long beam for balance. And you can see how Alyssa is not exactly thrilled to be doing it, but she keeps going.
So many people – literally hundreds – have been directly involved in her care to get her to this point. And this is a day that we have never assumed was coming. We have been hoping and working, but have slowly moved from despairing that she would ever be able to even move around independently, to acceptance, to seeing slow changes, but not taking it for granted that she would ever be able to walk.
You can take your Gold Medal Olympians and your Mt. Everest climbers. That’s a piece of cake compared to the fundamental neurological change occurring in Alyssa, and the challenge, the bravery, the effort and the love required of her and all those around her every day (including the world’s greatest sisters who are there caring for, helping and, if necessary, carrying her every step of the way) for the last 8 years that made this momentous achievement possible.
There’s still a long way to go – she has to do this more than once and learn to walk consistently and confidently all by herself, she has to learn how to navigate and cope with bumps and uneven ground. She also is still trying to develop the very basics of speech and communication. She does not have the ability to care for any of her basic physical needs.
But what she has done even to this point to overcome is more than most of us ever have to face in a lifetime – and she has done that through the collective efforts of so many wonderful people. Mary and I thank you all from the depths of our hearts.
Alyssa, you are awesome!
[My thanks to Alyssa’s aides and Beechboro Christian School for allowing me to make this video public.]
Peter J. McLean