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In the coming
days, it will be 18 months since someone my wife and I trusted forever changed
the course of my family's life.
For those who
aren't familiar with my son—"the Incredible Holt"—his nanny hurt him at
11 weeks old. His skull was cracked and he stopped breathing. Blue and
lifeless, a pair of strangers randomly spotted my fading child and saved him
with CPR. He spent hours in intensive care, weeks in a coma, months in
excruciating pain, a year in hell, and yet here he is: still fighting.
brain injury Holt suffered has left him with many unresolved health issues. Throughout
each day, Holt has sudden bouts of unexplained pain, but he also experiences
random fits of joy for reasons beyond our understanding. Neurological damage
has left him with atrocious vision, but his hearing is pitch perfect. I admit we
can't get him to laugh on command, but that doesn't mean he won't smile when something
tickles his fancy. It's heart-wrenching watching him grow into a toddler
without being able to sit up, crawl or even reach for things—but then again,
it would be worse if we were no longer able to watch him at all. It's all about
When you find
yourself in a hole as deep as our family fell into, it is only then that you
can appreciate the varying depths of despair. The trick is to take that appreciation
and selfishly exploit it to find joy for your family again. Abra-ca-freakin'-dabra.
Photograph by Lady and the King Photography
After our son's
near-fatal injury, months clocked by and things never really got easier. They felt like they did at times, but it was
always a façade, at best. As random as the lifespan of a soap bubble, a setback
always seemed to burst on Holt when we weren't expecting. The truth is, when
forced with no options, it's human nature to adjust to your new surroundings.
So for us, we slowly understood—but never accepted—that our son was going
to be living a life at a different speed than the rest of the world.
reality sunk in, it took both tangible and emotional support to get us through some
of the darker times. As I sat stone-faced for months upon months, wrestling with
the reality of my son having permanent brain damage, the planet secretly began
to move again. We received donations and messages of hope from thousands of
people that humbled us to no end. Today, with some of the heartache in the rearview
mirror, we are able to take a step back and realize how fucking amazing that
was and that we should figure out how to mass produce it.
I don't believe
we are the spokespeople for tragedies by any means, but I feel my wife and I
are damn good ambassadors. Our life is still on the rocks and we are still
trying to figure out the best way to help our son succeed in his personal recovery,
but we are now able to take a breath. We can look around and recognize other
people's plights—not just our own. We are no longer in panic mode but rather
cruise control with our foot gently touching the gas pedal, in case we need to
take off again, which we've had to do on numerous times.
So, for us, the time is now to start repaying our debt to the world around us.
of last year, exactly one year after our son was near-fatally hurt by his
nanny, we launched our nonprofit Holton's
Heroes to be able to offer families around the country the same support and
feeling of community that we were once gifted.
launch date five months ago, we've helped out four amazing
children and their families. We're already set up to help out two more
children in the coming months.
I won't tell
you that if my son was never hurt we'd still be doing something like this,
because it isn't true. I also won't tell you this situation was kismet or "meant
to be," as I'd easily trade every family we help to get my son back. I know
that's a jerk thing to say, but I also know that's not an option, so this truly
is the next best thing. And selfishly, I'm OK with that.
hosting our first Walk
the Boards for TBI event on June 25 in Ventnor City, New
Jersey. You can join us in our mission to bring children around the country who
have suffered a traumatic brain injury some joy in their life. Come walk the boards
with us or simply visit our site to donate—knowing full well you are not only
making a deserving child happy but, selfishly, me too.