In a perfect world, sweet little children would not get seriously sick or require organ transplants.
Wednesdays are a busy day in our house. Our oldest two kids have gymnastics classes back to back. Due to the timing of those classes, I go straight from work to daycare to class. Dinner is a hastily made batch of PB&J, cheese sticks, and juice boxes – most of which is eaten during the drive across town.
My three-year old son’s class is first, and it is a “parent and me” class where I follow him around to make sure he’s listening and following instructions. When he’s done, our six-year-old daughter (who comes with my wife, direct from a different activity) has her class. It’s usually 7:45 or later when we get home, which leaves just a few minutes for homework or unwinding before we start into the bedtime routine.
Basically, Wednesdays are controlled chaos, but it’s worth it because our kids love the classes, the teachers, and the other kids in the class. My son’s class is rather small – it’s just him and two little girls. As such, we know the other kids in the class pretty well – or so I thought…
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Recently, I saw a link to an article about the family of Curtis Ledbetter, the Director of Operations for the University of Nebraska baseball team. Ledbetter is a former Husker player – a big, strong first baseman who usually led the team in home runs. But the main reason I read the article (which can be found here) is because I know Ledbetter as the dad of one of the little girls in my son’s gymnastics class. Truth be told, it was the article’s title – “Huskers Excited to Show Their ‘Love 4 Laney’” – that stopped me in my tracks.
I had no idea Laney was sick.
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Reading the article, these two sentences punched me right in the gut:
“Laney was diagnosed with Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis Type 2, which means her liver doesn’t produce and move bile the way it should, so Laney’s body can absorb all the nutrients it needs. Nebraska Medicine doctors in Omaha told Curtis and Monica that their daughter eventually will need a transplant.”
I’ve been around little Laney an hour a week for most of the last six months, and I had zero idea she is sick. She’s always struck me as a perfectly normal two-year old. She’s active, energetic, and cute as a button. You’d never know that she gets “seven to eight doses of medicine” every day and will someday require a new liver.
As a parent, I simply cannot imagine having a child fighting a disease with six words and almost 20 syllables in the name. Our kids went through a bout of 24-hour stomach flu a few weeks ago, and it was exhausting. The stress of seeing your babies miserable and weak is heartbreaking. But a few days later they were completely back to normal. I cannot imagine having that as my daily norm. The love and strength parents like the Ledbetters and Hoffmans show is amazing and inspiring.
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At the Nebraska – Minnesota baseball game on April, 12, the Huskers honored the 2005 team that made the College World Series. Curtis Ledbetter was a key cog in that great team. At the same game, the team held a “Love 4 Laney” day raising awareness for organ donation. The team traded their traditional red hats for green ones, and fans wore neon green awareness shirts.
A clip from the local news can be found here.
Nebraskans, you can learn how to sign up to become an organ donor here. For those who live outside The Good Life, here are some resources for you. I’m proud to be a registered organ and tissue donor, and I hope you will join me.
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(Author’s note: Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post? Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge? Like clicking on links? These questions are all answered here.)