Before I get started with a special post, I wanted to let everyone know that Gabe is doing incredible on the machine! I posted on Facebook but I am posting the still picture of him jumping to the right here as well. You can see the entire videos at http://www.hopeforgabe.org/photosvideos.html of him jumping, balancing on one foot and hopping on one foot which he could not do prior to the VECTTOR! This is a long post but I have not posted in a while so please be understanding. There are two things I am going to post below and the first is a special project that Turner had to turn in at school. I am so proud of him but scared of what may be in the next paper he writes as he is starting to connect the dots with this horrible disease Duchenne! Here is verbatim what he turned in and it was an in class exercise so we did not know he did it until it came home laminated. Note the misspelled words as this is verbatim –
“Who Is Special To You?
Who is an important person in your life? My 5 year old brother named Gabe is an important person in my life. He is a very special boy because he was born with a disease called DMD (Duchenne Muscular Distrophy). He has red hair and was born May 13, 2005. Here are three reasons why he is special.
He was born with a terrible disease but he tries to be his best. It is hard to do a lot of things like listen to what his teachers and what mom and dad say. I love him so much though. He is a very nice and pleasant boy, however it is hard to control himself and listen to instructions. Everybody loves him, like Andrew and me because he is as delicate as a vase.
Second, he tries to be like me and play sports like me and be able to run fast but his weak muscles won’t allow him to. He played baseball and soccer but he got tired during the beginning of the game or practice. He loves to play with his friends but he can’t do a lot of things they do. It is a tough life for him. He has lots of ups and downs.
Lastly, he is so special because when people’s birthdays come up, on their invitations they say “Instead of giving presents, bring money and I will donate it to Gabe!” So far, they have raised at least $800! That is amazing!
I hope you know why I picked my little brother for this story. He is a very special little boy and it is hard to think he has weak muscles. He looks like a normal boy but he really has something wrong inside. I love him so much! Who is very special to you? By - Turner Griffin”
I can tell you it was impossible to read the above without crying! Little boys should not have to write about things like this! I know such is life but this disease impacts EVERYTHING in our life and it is now finding its way as a topic in Turner's schoolwork. I am sure other little boys wrote about an athlete, grandparent, parent, or older brother that they look up to but not Turner. He chose to write about his 5 year old younger brother who has made a tremendous impact on Turner because of his battle with a terminal disease! I am so proud of Turner and though he does not know all of the details of the journey ahead of Gabe, he simply just knows he is special and he loves him so much! I know it won’t be long before the questions become way more difficult but I must admit…WOW! Gabe just has that effect on people. Nothing is more evident than the next story in which Gabe touched a group of 10 year old boys of a basketball league in such a way that they got really creative and had a fundraiser!
The Oak Mountain Raptors are a group of 24 4th graders from the Oak Mountain school system developing basketball skills by playing together in competitive basketball leagues in Birmingham. When the directors of the program, (Kris and Angela Dunn) were looking for a service project to remind the boys involved that it wasn't all about sports, they knew the organization they were going to focus on - Hope For Gabe.
Here's what they did to get involved:
· The Raptors set up a fundraiser that was pledged-based, with the kids/players soliciting pledges from friends, relatives and family members for every point the Raptors scored collectively in the last week of their season. Their teams played 4 games that weekend, and they gave guidance to those that pledged with a target of 80 points (each team scoring an average of 20 points). That made the math on the targeted pledge $10, and they also allowed people to simply pledge that amount or any other amount they'd like to as well.
· The Raptors did an educational meeting where Traci and I went to talk to the kids about Gabe's condition, what the disease does to little boys, and why we need a cure.
· At the same meeting, the Raptors coaches told the boys and parents what they wanted them to do - which is make calls (the kids, not the parents) to the people they know and tell them about our fundraiser - who they were playing for, why it's important, and then ask them for a pledge based on the number of points they scored that weekend. The Raptors asked the parents to help the kids build a list of people to call, to email, etc., and asked them to dial the numbers for them and say hi first, but the goal was to have the kids to make the actual request. That's all part of them doing the service mission and understanding what it takes to ask people to get involved through a pledge, describing the mission of the drive, understanding compassion for others, etc.
· The Raptors provided a flyer describing what they were doing to follow up via email, a pledge sheet and a brief script the kids could use when they got on the phone with someone.
· The Raptors target per kid: At least five $10 pledges for a total of $50 per kid, which would allow them to make a donation of over $1,000 to Hope for Gabe.
How did they do? We joined the Raptors program at the end of season awards ceremony, at which time the Raptors coaches put the final number up for all to see (including the kids that knew the goal was $1,000) and delivered the following amount to Hope For Gabe......
Over $3,600!!! Unbelievable!!!
If you're looking for a service project to teach some lessons in life and also raise money for a great national cause with a local connection, the Dunns and the Raptors program highly recommend doing a similar drive for Hope For Gabe. Contact us at the Hope For Gabe foundation and we'll put you in touch with the Dunns who are happy to provide all the pledge drive materials they used (email content, pledge sheet, script for the kids) so you don't have to start from scratch.
The Raptors program won a title and finished second in another league this year. It's safe to say their involvement with H4G will be as memorable to the kids and the parents as any game or trophy! You guys absolutely rock!!! Gabe is so fortunate to be in this community and to have all these folks working together to make a difference with our foundation. It is evident more than ever that Gabe impacts lives even though he is not trying to! Gabe, you are my hero! Gabe’s Daddy