Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Update, with Thanks.

As I type away at this long overdue blog entry, I am sitting on a plane to Vancouver, eager to take my place as a delegate at the Federal Liberal Convention.  The time alone, the dim lights of the airplane, and the beautiful view out my window have finally allowed me time to look back at the past few months and reflect on where we are on this long journey and look forward, just a little, to see what the future holds for us.

Thankfully, Isaac continues to be in excellent health and is, perhaps, as healthy as he has ever been.  He continues to grow, his joints appear stable, his heart condition has improved and his breathing sounds less laboured.  He continues to thrive in his Kindergarten class, under the watchful eye of his wonderful teacher, Ms. Rutherford.  Isaac craves knowledge, and he enjoys the people that feed that craving.  His love for life is very evident and his laughter infectious.  Watching him play with his brother, his best friend Gabriel, inspires us and warms our hearts. 

There isn’t a day that passes when we aren’t thankful for everything that we have in our lives.  While this journey has been incredibly difficult, it has also been a rewarding experience that we cherish.  We have been able to learn valuable lessons about ourselves and bond as a family in ways I had previously never imagined possible, and we learn more and more each day.

The past few months have been busy as far as Foundation work goes.  We worked hard on our Christmas mail-out campaign and were blessed by many generous donations to our organization and our fight for Isaac.  We appreciated all the kind notes that came our way and enjoyed the opportunity to update our supporters about Isaac and our fight for a cure.  In addition, we continued to grow our support base, inform the public about MPS VI and advocate and support families across the world that are, unfortunately, beginning the battle we are now fully entrenched in.

We fully recognize that it is harder to manage this fight for our son without the support of our friends, family, and the broader community around us.  Our volunteers have been instrumental in keeping our momentum moving forward and, as National Volunteer Week kicks off, we would like to thank all of you that have worked so hard to keep us going.  The long nights and early mornings spent planning and implementing our fundraising events are made easier with your involvement.  From the marathon runners and family walkers at our RUN FOR ISAAC! event, to our dedicated team at the celebrity golf tournament, to my group of grade 8 envelope stuffers, please understand how much we appreciate the impact you have on our lives.  I wish we could recognize you more for the work that you do and we look forward to celebrating with you when we finally find a cure for our son.

Special thanks needs to be extended to two such volunteers, Alix Hall and Jasmine Ma., for their efforts organizing the Victoria Hall Charity Run for Isaac this past March.  The event was an incredible success, thanks in large part to the dedicated efforts of Alix and Jasmine.  Because of their determination, their small event turned into a large gathering of support for The Isaac Foundation.   Their efforts helped to raise over $1700 and help us pave the way to fund more innovative research into finding a cure.  Both Isaac and Gabriel attended the event, cheered on the runners, and charmed their way into the hearts of many new supporters.  I won’t soon forget the beautiful image of my two boys running to meet Ellen as she raced towards the finish line.  Thank you Alix, and thank you Jasmine for your work, for your drive, and for your desire to make a difference.  It may be overdue but please understand how heartfelt our appreciation is.

Our recap of the first quarter of 2009 cannot be complete without recognizing the tremendous support we received from Toronto Blue Jays Ace and Major League All-Star Roy Halladay, and his compassionate wife Brandy.   Roy was selected as the Toronto Sun Sportsman of the Year for his generous work in the community.  Part of his award was a donation to the charity of his choice and he selflessly selected The Isaac Foundation.

We were fortunate to meet Roy and Brandy during our 2008 visit to Doc’s Box, a private suite at the Roger’s Center that the Halladay family provides to kids from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.   They have renovated the suite specifically for the benefit of the children and both Roy and Brandy work hard to ensure that sick children are able to escape reality of the harsh world around them for a few hours and watch the Blue Jays play from the comfort of their box.  Roy ensures he takes the time to visit the children and their families before game time, signs balls for the kids, and answers their questions about his life in the the Big Leagues.  Brandy, ever patient, kind, and considerate, watches the baseball game with the families and ensures that she provides a warm and comforting environment for all of her visitors. 

During our trip in July 2008, Brandy and Roy were able to provide our family with some much needed downtime in their suite.  We had just finished our week-long stay in the hospital and received our invitation to watch the game from Doc’s Box.  It was here that both Brandy and Roy made a special connection with Isaac and Gabriel and it was here that the Halladay’s support of The Isaac Foundation began.  From here, Brandy and Roy advocated for our son and our organization, vowing to bring awareness to our cause and our tireless hope for a cure.  Brandy worked to promote The Isaac Foundation during telecasts of the baseball games and stayed in contact throughout the ball season in order to get updates on Isaac’s health.  At the same time, Roy became a hero for Isaac and Gabriel as they watched him pitch on the television screen.  The look up to him and enjoy seeing him play baseball and they pretend they are both “Roy Holiday” as they learn to throw and catch a ball of their own.

Roy has, in my eyes, also become a mentor, but not because of the magic he works from the pitcher’s mound.  While he is, undeniably, the best pitcher in the Major Leagues, and he has won countless awards during his illustrious career, it needs to be remembered that there have been many “best pitchers” before Roy Halladay and there will be many more “best pitchers” after him.  He has, like so many others, left his mark on the game of baseball but it is the impact that he has had on the life of our son, the example he sets for those around him, and the perspective he has on life that I truly respect.

Roy and Brandy work to bring joy to those that surround them and they endeavour to provide opportunities to countless people less fortunate then themselves.  They are giving of their time and patient with those in need.  Most importantly, they are parents themselves and they truly work hard to teach their children through the examples they set. They take joy in helping others and pride in their efforts to make this world a better place. They are kind, and caring, and compassionate; they are empathetic and loving, and they encompass all the positive qualities that any parent would want to share with their children.  They have perspective, and they recognize the important things in life.

This was evident for our family during our visit to the Roger’s Center for a special presentation to The Isaac Foundation before the game on April 7th, 2009.  Roy was receiving his Sportsman of the Year Award and asked us to be on hand to celebrate with him.  The sheer joy that came from him as he saw Isaac and Gabriel running toward him is something I will never forget.  The kindness he showed them, the love he gave them, and the genuine excitement he had while interacting with them all stand out vividly in my mind.   Roy Halladay, the person, was being celebrated on that night, and he ensured that our children got to share in the celebration with him.  He took the time to visit with the boys and scooped both of them up in his arms during the video presentation to the crowd.  He truly cared about our children and vowed to fight for our son alongside our family.

Long after his Major League Baseball career has come and gone, Roy Halladay can look back on his accomplishments and have every reason to be proud.  The Cy Young Awards, the records, the strike-outs, and wins will mark his history and his place in the game.  But it will be his accomplishments off the field, the love he has shown their children, the example he has set for them, the lives he’s worked to impact and, hopefully, the part he played in finding a cure for Isaac, that he will forever be defined by.   I’ll take a good person over a good baseball player as a hero in my life any day.  In Roy Halladay, I have both.

Well, plane is now landing and I’m realizing that I’ve been typing for far too long.  This weekend will bring me incredible joy as I follow my dream of standing for public office and follow my passion for advocating for those in need.  I’m glad I’ve had this time to reflect on the past few months and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to dream again about our future.

I’ll try to update more regularly.   Thanks, as always, for your support.

With Love,

The Isaac Foundation

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