Friday, April 1, 2016

Young Warrior

At my first AMCSI conference I saw Owen for the first time, he was one the boys that amazed me and that left me a heartwarming feeling, what I didn't know then was what he will mean later in my life.

So here is my story with my buddy Owen, the young warrior.

Almost 5 conferences ago, I was with my mom in a Subway having lunch, when this family of three boys and a mom walked in, it was Owen, his two brothers, and Margaret, as it was my first time surrounded by AMCers, every time I spotted one I couldn't stop staring, so I stared at him, I was stunned to see how he related with his siblings but, most of all how they were behaving with him, he was just part of the gang, no soft words, no special treatments just because he did things different than them.

After the conference Margaret (Peg) wrote me saying that she thought she saw me at the restaurant but she was to occupy with three boys to come and say hi. Since that day, they have been part of my life in a very special way. Every time Peg shares something about Owen my heart pounds filled with excitement to learn what this young warrior has achieved this time.

A few years later, Owen filmed a video with Peg showing me his range of motion to see if I could help with ideas on how to put on and take off a t-shirt, this was 3 years ago. That same year we met again in Minneapolis, this time, I was face to face with the boy with magic in his eyes. I asked them if I could have time with him to try to work out  the t-shirt situation, that day for the first time I truly saw the feeling of exasperation I feel when I try to do something I that can´t. He was really trying, I mean, we spend about two hours doing this, and the time was not the problem, the problem was that he was almost there, he needed an inch or two more to get it but it just didn't happen. I was seeing those magic eyes getting filled with tears of frustration that he was too strong to let fall. I thought it was best to leave it there for this time, I knew he had the idea planted in his head, HE COULD DO THIS.
After a month of being back, I got a message from Peg telling me that Owen had mastered pants and braces and that he was still trying with the t-shirt, my heart was filled with joy.

Time passed and I thought he had left the "dressing himself " to one side and that he was concentrating on his walking. If you have seen Margaret´s documentary on Owen, "The Sweetest Gift: A parent´s journey of discovery¨  one of their constant jobs is to have Owen walk independently, and this year he has not only been awesome at that, he also has gone from 150 steps to 501 in TWO weeks, he deserves a standing ovation right? Yup! But this wasn't enough for him, he had to achieve more; about two weeks ago, I was tagged on one of Margaret´s photos that had a description that read like this:
"Who has two thumbs and learned how to take off his shirt?? This guy!! So hard to stand back and let him do it on his own. Owen Daniel you are awesome."
Yes, you are reading it right! After three years of trying he achieved something that most people thought he will never do. He took off his own T-shirt.
I know that for most "able-body" people, this might not seem like much, but when you live in a body that does not respond to your requests, is very easy to just accept the situation you are in and just depend on people to do it for you, mostly if you have been trying for a long time and it just doesn't work. So, yes Owen Daniel! YOU ARE AWESOME! For not being a victim of the circumstances and fighting with everything you have to be and do what you want.

I hope you, reading this, can get inspired by this story, I hope you fight for your dreams no matter how frustrated you feel every time you try or how long it takes, it might be years but if you keep trying and giving it your all, your dreams will come true, if not ask my buddy Owen.


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