You can be whatever you want to be.
Maybe for some. But not for my son Andrew.
You see, he has early childhood trauma and an intellectual disability from being exposed to alcohol while in the womb. Permanent brain damage resulted.
With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome sadly, nothing comes easy.
That diagnosis meant he could learn, just differently from other kids.
Highly visual. Tactile.
He needed daily reviews to activate his weak working memory. Small chunks of material. Removal of unnecessary stimuli from his environment. Constant reinforcement to encourage him. Regular monitoring to keep him on the right task.
In other words, he needed lots of structure to create consistency.
With intentional instruction, he progressed academically – slow yet steady.
With a feeling of success, he tried to the best of his ability.
And with a sense of inclusion, he eventually found something that he could do better than most kids.
This one strength allowed Andrew to be part of something – the cross country team.
Through hard work he later earned four varsity letters in high school, gold medals in national and world competitions for Special Olympics and a coveted qualifying slot in the Boston Marathon.
While Andrew appreciates accolades, he’s never fixated on them. Connecting with people and making a difference in real time are much more important to him.
“I like helping people” became a predictable response during TV news interviews.
What more could he possibly do with so many achievements? The 500 Festival’s Hoosier Holiday Challenge gave him an idea.
Rather than use November and December to run a collective 150 miles and achieve the challenge goal, Andrew would do it in three 50-mile days. That’s right. 150 miles running over three days.
And along the way, he hopes to raise $25,000 for hunger relief – which remains a deeply personal cause for Andrew – after his own food insecurity issues as an infant before being adopted.
To make a donation on behalf of Andrew, click here and enter his name where you see “other.”
To participate in the Hoosier Holiday Challenge, click here. Use code “PetersonHHC” to save $7 on registration.
Most importantly. To connect with people like Andrew, always remember they have strengths amid their challenges. DCP
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page NoLimitsAndrew – Andrew Peterson
To watch Andrew’s amazing ESPN 14-minute documentary, click here. Andrew Peterson ESPN Documentary