Many have asked me about the “Stay Strong” wording on the back of this year’s Foundation t-shirt. I have written about it in the past but am happy to share the story behind it with you again.
In October 2007, after Hank made a miraculous-like recovery from the initial onslaught of the fungal infection, he came home for a few days. You may remember the orange ribbons around the neighborhood and his appearance at the SMOW football playoff game. He was still very sick as his leukemia had resurfaced again and he was weak. Often he would sleep on the coach in the family room in front of the fire rather than go upstairs. I would sleep on the floor next to him and Uncle Joe would sleep on the other couch. Susan would get whatever sleep she could upstairs. We kept a urinal next to the couch so he did not have to walk to the bathroom. I woke up one night and looked at Hank sleeping on the couch, bathed in the light from the logs in the fireplace. His face was puffy from medications, his fluid pump was humming and he had no hair. Our beautiful boy was struggling with a sickness that he should not have had to face for 60 more years. I cried silently as I looked at him wondering how and why this happened to my son. He awoke shortly thereafter and had to use the urinal. Big Joe awoke as well to see if we needed help. Hank and I stood together as I braced him up so he could pee and he must have seen the tears still on my face. After he finished we continued standing, facing each other, leaning my forehead onto his fevered forehead. And he said to me: “Dad, stay strong. We are going to beat this thing.” Hank was now the consoler, a young man who simply refused to quit. I could never have a more heartbreaking or prouder moment as a parent. (Read More…)