Many of you already know that my family loves Head Coach Joe Susan of the Bucknell Bison. Joe and I are both from South River NJ and although he is older (slightly), I did go to school with his brothers, Jeff and Doug. It is easy to understand the relationship that Joe has with me and my family. After Shane and Wyatt were born and when they were finally healthy enough to attend sporting events, Joe sent me a note and invited us out to Bucknell University to attend a practice or game. I remember asking for more details and his reply was simple, any day and any time. Joe stated without question, we are family connected through South River and he meant it.
Fast forward to today. It appears to me that my family has grown in numbers and in ways that I never imagined after accepting Joe's invite. It appears that family now includes so many student athletes, coaches and parents connected through Bucknell athletics. I never saw this coming but I am so grateful and thankful.
For Shane and Wyatt, life hasn't always been easy. They were born 10 weeks early and weighed just 3lbs each. After birth, we were told that they both had Down syndrome and that was the good news. We weren't sure if either would live or for how long. Both had serious GI concerns, Lung problems, Wyatt was missing half his diaphragm were just some of the medical complications and after about 2 years and hundreds of nights at Janet Weis Children's Hospital, and having endured 10+ surgeries each - they beat the odds and survived. Wyatt also earned his nickname of Super Wy after a particular tough surgery when he coded in his Moms arms. Mary (Mom) started CPR and the response team came, took over and .... well the rest is history. I could not imagine my life without my boys.
Today, as Shane and Wyatt continue to grow one thing is clear and obvious. They both love sports. They have always been around the field and courts watching and playing with their big AWESOME brother Jesse and his teammates. They love to watch Jesse play, hockey and all sports at Bucknell.
Each and EVERY time we are on campus, we are all welcomed with open arms. EVERY student athlete has taken time to say HI, give a high-5 or fist pump. Many have received hugs in return from the twins who appreciate each moment with them. Coaches have invited us to games and practices while making their team available to our family in a personal way that means so much to all of us. Parents have stopped us to say hi or to get a hug from Shane and Wyatt. We thank all of you who have supported us and the twins.
I often speak to groups and folks about Acceptance, Respect and Inclusion for all individuals with Down syndrome. Joe Susan often speaks to commitment and family. Bucknell is a combination of all 5 - Acceptance, Respect, Inclusion, Commitment and FAMILY. You see, we aren't alumni but definitely feel like family. Thank you Coach Joe for inviting us out a few years ago but you failed to mention how awesome the experience would be. Thank you to every person who has ever said hi, smile or just waved to us. Thanks to all who follow Shane and Wyatt on twitter at @swdsf. We hope that Bucknell never changes from this and we hope that they continue to support all individuals of all ability, both who attend as students or fans. We hope that every October during Down syndrome Awareness Month is celebrated on campus and at all Patriot League events. We hope to continue our trips to Lewisburg and hope to see you all again soon. Thank you Bucknell Family for you love and support and a very special hug to our favorite Coach, Joe Susan.