My what a difference a month makes. You remember weeks ago how frustrated I was about Austin's progress or lack thereof. Well soon after that rough post he really turned a corner. Up until today we hadn't had any tears or need for breaks during hockey the past couple weeks. Today he skated as best he ever has however, I think a late night at Grandpa's made for a very tired and emotionally tested Austin. He'd fall and cry, he complained often that his feet hurt, it was just a rough go. But check out the video and be amazed at how well he is skating! And you can also see him score a goal today. Crazy good day!
After the practice a few of the players went over to the U of M field house where Dance Marathon was taking place. This is where Coach Jackie received the grant to start the hockey program. It was a very neat experience and nothing like I imagined. These kids are out there for 30 straight hours, have no idea what time it is, and dancing in a carnival atmosphere all to raise money for kids with physical disabilities. They would also pay tribute to some kids they had helped and had testimonies and such. One teenager was playing the drums along to Eminem's Lose Yourself. The gist of his story was he was hit by a babysitter in the chest at 4 months old and his heart had stopped for 28 minutes. He had severe cerebral palsy and talked very slowly but was able to beat that drum and cymbal with his rigid arms. It was so incredibly sad yet inspiring and it brings tears to my eyes thinking about it again.
And look who we got to meet?? Ashley freaked right out. She was terrified so we didn't try to track down anymore characters though we really would have liked a picture with the U of M Storm Trooper and a Sand Monster.
I'm glad we got to see what the Dance Marathon was all about. Throughout this whole project we have not had to pay for anything. Never an ice bill and if we hadn't had all hand me down equipment they would have given us all new equipment except skates which kids can rent and bags and they've slowly salvaged enough bags as hand me downs from others. The number of volunteers on the ice each week is also impressive with Austin often having one on one help with these awesome young adults and a few not so young adults.
Every week since mid-January, Austin and either Joe, myself, or our whole family has made the 90 minute trek to and from Ann Arbor. On the way down we always see this billboard. And I always go back to those dreaded days in 2003 when we almost lost him. U of M saved him though he's had a horribly tough go at times. Over 7 years later U of M is still there helping Austin along with many other heroes to be the best that he can be. I know all you State fans are probably rolling your eyes at this but "Hail to my Little Conquering Hero you've come so far my crazy boy!"