“Never lose hope, and do the best you can — that’s all you can do”
“Silas has never met a stranger. From the very beginning he has had a passion for people. He may sit back and watch for a few minutes to figure out how to get in on a conversation, but once he does, he and his heart spread wide open for everyone to see.
He’s also a lover of all things boy. Silas loves being outside climbing trees, swimming, and fishing — a real rough and tumble kind of kid. And just like I was at his age, he loves sports. At two years old he was already making solid contact with the little plastic baseballs I’d pitch for him. It was pretty clear he was going to be a gifted athlete.
When you have gifts like that, though, it makes losing them all the harder. It happened pretty quickly. One moment he would be outside running around or climbing a tree, and the next he’d be tripping over his own feet like his shoes were too big for him. Sometimes, he would fall down and not even have the strength to crawl. “Get me, get me,” he’d say from the floor.
My wife Jessica and I were terrified. After one trip to Birmingham Pediatrics, the doctor called his neurologist friend at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama to see if they could work us in quickly.
The first diagnosis Silas received was Guillain-Barre Syndrome. While there is no cure for it, many people get over it quickly and never have any symptoms again. Sometimes, though, it can become a chronic condition called chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIPD) that will come and go for the rest of your life. To walk, Silas needed to receive a special IV treatment every week or two — a process that lasts four-and-a-half to five hours and comes with some nasty side effects like headaches and the urge to throw up. And once it wore off, he’d be back on the floor unable to move almost instantly.
We really didn’t know what to expect with the treatments until last year, when we finally turned a corner. We were going as long as nine months without treatment, and right now it’s settled into every three to five months or so. With some luck, the doctors say that when he gets a little older the treatments might be able to be spread out to once a year or even every five or six years.
Things still will never be quite the same, though. We enrolled Silas in a baseball league last year, but in the beginning he could barely run to first base even though you could tell he was trying so hard. Thankfully this year there’s been some improvement and the coach tried him out at pretty much every position on the field, but even so, sometimes I think about how this is going to affect the rest of his life. The medicine he needs is pretty rare, so he’s always going to have to be near a medical facility in case his condition worsens. He mentioned to me once that one day he might like to go into the military, and all I could say was “Okay, bud,” not able to tell him there are going to be limitations to what he can and cannot do.
But what gives me and my family confidence and comfort is knowing that the future is not in our hands. As a Christian, I believe the good Lord is in charge no matter what, and as a father I know He is going to handle things. He has something in store for me, just as I know he has something really special in mind for my boy.
I think I’m already seeing what he has in mind coming to Give Kids The World. After seeing what these people have created here, what they’ve done for so many children, Silas told us he wished that other kids could have come with us to share the moment. This place is indescribable — we’ve tried to keep our friends and church family updated with our adventures, but to really show what a blessing this is, what a phenomenal act of kindness this organization is, it just can’t be done justice unless you’ve been here. And that’s why we’re already planning on taking frequent vacations back just so we can volunteer and help make these memories possible for others. It’s added so much grace to our life.
Silas’ story has already inspired others in our circle to help too. My brother is on the staff of a large church back in Birmingham while Jessica’s father is the pastor of a fairly large church of his own, and both have already expressed interest in getting involved with Give Kids The World. Also, Jessica’s grandfather owns one of the largest farm truck companies in the southeast, and he wants to start making donations. I have no doubt this was God’s plan for us all along. We’re right where He wants us to be.
It’d be easy with what Silas went through to focus on the negativity, but there’s always something positive if you look hard enough. Trust in the Lord, never lose hope, and do the best you can. That’s all you can do.”