A lot of parents sent their kids off to college over the past few weeks. For Chicago Sun-Times writer Alejandro Escalona, it was a proud but bittersweet time as he did the same with his son, Daniel, who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy which slowly robbed him of his ability to run, walk, and move his arms.
The disease didn’t dim Daniel’s spirit or determination, however. He is starting school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
His father reflected on life with Daniel in a recent Sun-Times article. Here’s an excerpt:
Our hearts have been broken so many times seeing your debilitating body diminish to a point now where you can move your fingers only enough to type into an iPad or dial your cellphone. Still, you have written papers, essays and newspaper articles without once complaining about your condition.
I have had the privilege of taking care of you as your body has weakened. I have bathed you, dressed you, carried you to your chair and moved you at night so that you can sleep comfortably.
For the next four years, you will live in Nugent Hall, a dorm designed and fully staffed to take care of you and 23 other students with disabilities. We are fortunate that U. of I. has a state-of-the art facility and a support network that will help you succeed in a competitive college….…On Tuesday, we packed the van and headed to Urbana-Champaign with your mom and sister. You looked a bit nervous, but eager to start this new chapter in your life. We had a great time helping you to organize and decorate your room with posters of the Beatles and the Bulls.
One of the posters you chose particularly caught my attention. It reads: “Keep calm and carry on.” That is precisely what you have done. You have carried on in spite of incredible odds against you.
Then it was time to say goodbye. We kissed and hugged you before heading back to Chicago.
We don’t know what the future will bring. But as a relative put it, you haven’t come this far to fail, Daniel.
H/T Cathleen M. Hunt