You Haven’t Come This Far To Fail: A Father Sends His Disabled Son to College

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.

Read the whole thing.

H/T Cathleen M. Hunt

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.

  • MZ

    There is no such place as the University of Chicago at Urbana-Champaign. You are confusing the private University of Chicago, one of the world’s leading universities with the public school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    • Tony Rossi

      Oops. Thanks for the heads up. The columnist got it right. I was typing too fast and got it wrong. I corrected it. Thanks again for letting me know.

  • Thomas R

    I still lived with my parents in college, colleges around here I don’t think have that kind of dorm for the disabled, but college was still a great time. Best in my life. (There were negatives, but even they were memorable)

    • Tony Rossi

      I’m glad to hear it was a good experience for you, Thomas, despite its challenges.

  • Jenny c

    Tony, Thanks so much for posting this. I worry constantly about what my son will do when it comes time for college he is just going into 8th grade and is already in classes that will prepare him for college because he is so excited to go. And, as the parent I think who will take care of him?? This gives me hope there are more places out there like this. From one DMD parent to another..blessings to you all.

    • Tony Rossi

      I’m glad the story gave you a little piece of mind, Jenny. God bless you and your family as you seek the right answers for the future.