By Tom Mailey
As most of our listeners know, Pat’s youngest son, Dimitri, has autism. And today, on World Autism Awareness day (and Dimitri’s 19th birthday) feels like a good time to share how impressed I have always been with how Pat and Dimitri’s mom, D’anne, have raised this young man. I’ve often told others that I think God places certain kids with certain parents because He knows nobody else will do for that child, and I believe that is true with Dimitri. I know the past 19 years have not been easy on either of them, and yet I have never heard a complaint, never a twinge of self-pity or “why us”? From the very beginning, it was always about–and continues to be–giving their son every opportunity to have the best life possible; one that is as rewarding, and as rich, and as happy and hopeful as it can be. So far, they’ve done a pretty great job.
Also there every step of the way…? Dimitri’s big brother Lucas (That’s him in the catcher’s gear several years ago, as Dimitri is about to throw out the first pitch at a River Park Little League game).
On the air this morning, Pat shared a short, beautifully written essay Lucas wrote about his little brother a few years back, on a previous World Autism Awareness Day.
“Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Also, today my brother should be driving a car by himself for the first time. This is just one thing out of many that he most likely will never be able to accomplish due to the fact that he has a pretty severe case of autism. He is definitely not what most people would consider “normal.” To me, and many people in his life, he’s better than normal Every obstacle I come across that I think is nearly impossible to overcome pales in comparison to the obstacles he faces every day. He’s the happiest kid I know and though he is younger than me has been my biggest teacher. I love you Dimitri. Happy birthday bro.”
Autism is not easy, but it isn’t anything that can’t be dealt with. From the outside, I can say the parents and families of autistic kids that I’ve met are without exception some of the most patient, most loving and flat-out coolest people on the planet–like Vanessa Bieker, whose 21 year old son John made Sacramento news recently for finishing the California International Marathon…with a broken ankle!
Vanessa heads up the Fly Brave Foundation, which helps adults with autism find meaningful employment. Please look for them at Country in the Park, selling some really great t-shirts with inspiring quotes. And…if you’re so inclined, go check out the free talent show Fly Brave is putting on later this month (hosted by our Good Day Sacramento buddy Cambi Brown). Click below to watch Vanessa and one of the evening’s performers tell you all about it. Support this wonderful community…some of the best people in the world belong to it…and their parents aren’t half bad either 🙂