See What Love Can DO!

2013 is closed! On the books and recorded.

Our year is best summed up with the lyrics of an Eric Clapton song

Because

~When you tell your story

~ Make sure your story’s right

~ Every little single word is true

~ See what love can do

I have chronicled a video highlight of our year here.

(watch here) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTXIHvgMOVg

There were many times our world felt like to was falling apart~ but hopefully we will continue to smile and pull through! We won’t let Parkinson’s compromise our happiness.

Thanks to all who helped make 2013 a memorable year!  Change will happen!

When your world, it starts to fall apart Look deep within, within your lonely heart. Do your best my friend, try and understand Its only you, pull yourself through.

When your world, it starts to fall apart
Look deep within, within your lonely heart.
Do your best my friend, try and understand
Its only you, pull yourself through.

See What Love Can Do ~ Eric Clapton

When your world, it starts to fall apart
Look deep within, within your lonely heart
Do your best my friend, try and understand
It’s only you, pull yourself through

When you tell your story
Make sure your story’s right
Every little single word is true

See what love can do
See what love can do

When the words are in the music, the music is the song
The world would be so happy, if we’d all just get along
I want to see it, a smile on every face

So when we tell our story
Make sure that it’s right
Every single word is true

See what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do

So when you tell your story, honey
Make sure that it’s right
I finally proved the message true

I see what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do

When we sing the story
Make sure your song is right
Finally proved the message true

See what love can do
Oh, see what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do

See what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do
See what love can do

Read more: Eric Clapton – See What Love Can Do Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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Parkinson’s doesn’t stop former NCSU Pack assistant coach Horton, from teaching life and football

We have been married for 20 years.  United in our goals of raising a compassionate family who is making a difference, not only on a football field.  We just happen to believe, people with disabilities can do amazing things!
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Don Horton has coached 15 offensive linemen who have played in the NFL. He was once named by ESPN.com as one of the two best offensive line coaches in the United States. He gained national prominence as a longtime assistant to former N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien.

Now he is an assistant coach at Ravenscroft School.

And he loves it.

“I got into coaching because I wanted to have an impact on young men,” Horton said recently, before going out into the rain for a Ravens practice. “I hope these guys that I’m coaching now will be better men because we worked together.”

Horton has Parkinson’s disease. He has had the chronic and progressive movement disorder for about seven years. Boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox have Parkinson’s, which can cause trembling hands, uncontrollable tics, stiffness, unsteadiness in walking among other things. Symptoms can worsen over time. There is no cure, and the cause of the disorder is unknown.

The disease has affected Horton’s speech and his movement. Former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson once needed to help him button his shirt after a game.

But Parkinson’s has not affected his desire to help young people.

Mike Fagan, a 6-foot-2, 320-pound tackle at Ravenscroft, said he is a better person because of Horton.

“First thing, he is a remarkable coach,” Fagan said. “He has so much knowledge. Learning from him has been immensely profitable.

“And to know what he is going through and how he is handling it is inspiring. No matter what obstacles you come up against, you shouldn’t ever give up.”

Horton, who has coached for 34 years, can still motivate players.

Don Horton - Ravenscroft

“Oh yeah, when he wants you to hear something in practice he gets his point across,” Fagan said. “He can get pretty emotional.”

“It’s tougher in high school to have an impact because you don’t have the time,” said Horton, 55. “You don’t meet and watch film together like you do in college. But you’re still trying to do the same thing – teach them the basics, the techniques – and trying to have an impact on their life.”

Coaching at Ravenscroft has given him the opportunity to continue doing what he has wanted to do essentially his entire life. He resigned from coaching in 2012 but continued working in football operations at State until this spring when he said he was fired less than a month after brain surgery.

“Don always has wanted to be coaching kids,” said Maura Horton, his wife of 20 years. “I admire that. He found what he wanted to do and pursued that. He hasn’t changed.”

He moves more slowly now. Some physical changes seem to happen overnight. Other changes have been so gradual that he didn’t realize they were happening until he noticed a major change.

The incident with the shirt button inspired Maura Horton to develop clothing that can fasten using magnets, an example of how the family has worked to adapt to Horton’s condition.

“I take umbrage at the term resilience,” Maura Horton said. “The lives of our children (daughters who are 10 and 6) have been changed forever because of Parkinson’s. The lives of our children have changed for the better because they have seen how their father has faced this.”

Toughness

Horton wants to keep coaching football, a sport he considers the last bastion of toughness.

“You get knocked down, you get up,” he said. “You lose, but you don’t quit trying. You push yourself farther than you want to go, but you keep going. Football teaches toughness, physically and mentally.”

Horton was excited when Ravenscroft coach Ned Gonet offered him a job because he believes he still has things to offer young men.

“I hope he’ll have me back next year,” Horton said.

No worries there, Gonet said.

“We are honored to have such a man be associated with our program,” Gonet said. “Not only does he do a tremendous job with the kids, he has been great for our coaching staff.”

Horton started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at New Mexico State, Ohio State and Virginia before he got his first head coaching job in 1977 at Norfolk (Va.) Catholic. He led a program that had scored 18 points the previous season to a 4-6 record. He is still in touch with some of the players there.

Joe Sparksman, a Department of Corrections probation parole officer in Raleigh who was a runner and linebacker at Norfolk Catholic, said Horton inspired him years ago and inspires him today.

“He has been tough,” Sparksman said. “Just watching him handle everything thrown at him has been an inspiration. He was tough as a coach, but he was a coach who stressed that I was a student as well as an athlete. There was never any question that he wanted what was best for me.”

Wittenberg University, Horton’s alma mater, offered him a job as an assistant in 1978 and he remained in college coaching until arriving at Ravenscroft.

Horton said there has been little adjustment to teaching high school players after working for years with much bigger and stronger college players.

“It’s relative,” he said. “In college, those 6-5, 280 guys play against other 6-5, 280 guys. High school players, 6-3, 230, play against high school players about the same size. Most of the college players know they aren’t going to play beyond their senior year and so do the high school players. It’s about the same.”

And the lessons taught through athletics are the same, too.

Horton and his wife were talking about that just the other day.

Life is not always fair, but you have to keep getting up.

Expect The Unexpected

I grew up in a family of practical jokers. Sandwiched between boys, it was common place to be the brunt of a punchline.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger mentality. We never took things too serious, the boundaries were always being stretched.  My father was right there as an instigator, although he would deny it.   During my high school years he thought it was comical to slip a bread tie into our sandwich while my mom was making our lunches.  Yes, a bread tie.  So while talking to friends, catching up on the days after school activities, homework or sports and testing schedule, you would bite down and feel a crunch.  The visual of a half dangling bread tie outside of your mouth and half in was mortifying to any teenager but it did make you chuckle a little too – just on the inside.  At some point I began to roll with the punches – and declare “oh, that’s my dad,  just trying to be funny”. I learned to always check my sandwich before devouring it but, then the day I would ease up and forget, it would be there again. Uncanny sense of timing.

Overnight Beach Field Trip

Overnight Beach Field Trip

Libby is on an overnight beach field trip with her school. An event she has been looking forward to since 1st grade.  They travel as a collective group, explore battleships, marine biology, spending countless hours with each other and bunker down at a campsite.  Her enthusiasm was contagious, at first how exciting, wonder what it will be like, but then I heard a report on the camp food as being described as “wonderfully delicious” and thought maybe this trip was being over sold.  We all became excited for her, the hope of something new and unexpected.

The Unexpected Surprise!

The Unexpected Surprise!

The overnight bags were packed for a solid week in advance.  Double – triple checking constantly. Water Shoes – check – Sweatshirts – check – Pillow – check – Camera, Money, Outfits and Sleeping Bag – check! As I tripped on the overflowing duffle bag and backpack for days, I thought, what could I leave in her bag that would remind her of us. Some moms leave loving notes or pictures…… some leave threatening reminders “to behave”……. I had decided, I was leaving my loving note in the form of a snake / serpent, tucked in her dark sleeping bag- sure to evoke a shrilling scream as she placed her tiny legs inside to sleep. It was also a reminder that when she laid down to close her eyes she had comfort  knowing, we can’t be with her physically but she’s always on our mind.

Life is full of unexpected surprises and last night as my youngest and I lay there and wonder if Libby had “discovered” her love surprise and if she had, why we couldn’t hear a ear piercing scream all the way in Raleigh, my phone beeped with an email.  Here was our unexpected surprise…. the FDA has issued a recall for the DBS (deep brain stimulator) cap manufactured by Medtronic‘s.  Seriously, a recall? We JUST had the surgery… how can this be? It’s not like taking your car in to have an airbag replaced.  There are no “loaners” to request.  I am not sure to date what our path will be to make the correction, but it takes me back to my family and the lessons they taught and we hope to teach, of expecting the unexpected and trying to roll with the punches.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-02/medtronic-s-deep-brain-stimulation-device-cited-by-fda-for-flaws

Thank You!

Emily Post - Etiquette

Emily Post – Etiquette

When I was getting married, some 19 years ago, I purchased Emily Post’s Etiquette Book.  It was important to me that I master the art of correspondence.  I still enjoy sending and receiving a snail mail thank you.  I am usually quick on the draw and have them addressed and in the mailbox by weeks end.  It’s one of those things that I take delight in completing as I cross it of my to-do list.  I have a deep affection for heavy weighted letterpress with a colored lined envelope. An old boss gave me a beautiful Waterman pen with a note that said “always take pride in your signature” and I have treasured and used it for many years.  Now If only my hand writing was as beautiful as my mothers calligraphy!

So sitting down to compose the thank you’s on my list should be easy …. right?  Truth be told I’m struggling and they continue to haunt me.  I decided this morning I must tackle it today.  It is easy to express a thank you for a small token or gift but how do you truly express gratitude to the people who have helped you in your greatest times of need?  During our recent lives journey many people helped our family stay afloat- not missing a beat or a basketball practice!  I am very closed- I can do it myself mentality – a flaw of mine I know. I am like most people.  I don’t want to put anyone out- take time from their families or make anything about us more important than anything that is happening in their lives.  We all have our challenges and who am I to waive the white flag and say we need help.

So here goes a few…..

Thank you!

My daughters teacher must think I am the strangest person in the world! She has offered several times to bring a meal, take Libby home – anything to ease our burden.  Who are we to ask a mother of 2, a full time teacher/ educator, a wife, a daughter, a sister for help.  It’s just not in my DNA.  She must know though that I am just thankful for the role she plays in my daughters life everyday as the best teacher who smiles when she sees her, gives her an extra hug, makes her day as normal as a 4th graders can be and most importantly, instills in her the confidence to be a great person! So, thank you Mrs Adcock.

To all the people who brought meals.  I’m not really sure I should thank you because the comments from my girls were blunt. “Mom, this is really good! Why don’t you make this?” “Mom – so and so knows how to cook…. you should spend more time asking her for recipes.”  Joking aside, not having to worry about planning, shopping and preparing was a huge blessing – so thank you!

For the friends that live far -from Germany, Florida, DC and Boston– thank you for just calling to check on us.  Hearing your voice brightened the day and made us feel loved.

To the friends that helped us laugh during the process, that was the best medicine.  I have to share one story that just ticked me to no end.  The day before Don was to be connected I received a text from a friend that said “I just remembered a dream from last night. Don was at a party with a huge smile on his face walking around pinching people and saying…. look what I can do. I can pinch again. You were mortified and Don and I were laughing hysterically.”  BOTH of those things would be true! So thanks for helping exercise our smile!

One last thank you to share, for the family and people that helped with our children -this is the hardest one for me- our deepest appreciation is extended. You have loved them like they were yours.  A close friend of mine just celebrated 40 years of life. I was quiet emotional because I wanted to express to her how selfless she’s been to me in this journey.  At her dinner, I gave a toast- I felt myself quivering as I read these words

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving us advise, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can stay with us in an hour of despair, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend that cares.”

Our sincere thank you,

Don and Maura Horton

What’s In A Smile?

This week Don will officially become the bionic man. Watch out Lee Majors, Don Horton is after you! After four weeks of healing, the surgical implants from Deep Brain Stimulation will all be connected.  Many have questions… How does it work? Will you immediately see the results? How long will it last? and What are the benefits?

Well, one of the gifts that we look forward to seeing the most… …. is his simple smile.

Hadley asked “why doesn’t dad smile when he sees me?”  I felt my heart brake into a million pieces right before her big hazel eyes.  I responded reassuringly “he smiles”.  She’s my debater, so I knew this wasn’t going to be over as quickly as I wanted and I desperately needed to put my heart back together in my chest. “Mom, when you pick me up you always smile and I know you’re happy to see me but dad doesn’t.”  “Oh honey”, trying to stall and put together my words to be able to communicate to a five year old child as to why it seems that way. “Your dad smiles when he sees you, when he thinks about you, when he watches you sleep at night and even when you are arguing with your sister.  It’s just that there is a part of his brain that makes it hard to show emotion. You just have to feel it.  When he looks at you, when he takes you for a walk, when he reaches for your hand, when he’s playing with you and when he kisses you goodnight.  You are the highlight of dads day! You are why he wakes up. You are why he breathes and you are why he won’t give up.”  She’s 5, so I know I can relate everything to a song.  I said “Hads you know the Bruno Mars song we always sing… Just the way you are?”  THATS EXACTLY how dad thinks about you.  To quote……

bruno mars

This might be one of the harder parts for me to explain. Parkinson‘s sufferers often lose the ability to control the facial and vocal muscles which allow them to convey a range of different emotions. Although they continue to have natural emotional responses, often, they cannot indicate them in the normal manner, by smiling or frowning or by raising or lowering their voice. Instead, their face appears expressionless.

SO… if THIS

deep brain stimultion


plus (+)  THIS

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Don Horton Wedding

EQUALS (=)  THIS

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Hayes Horton and Hadley Horton – The Ultimate Smiles!

Then it will be a success!!

A Duke Fan Forever

Team Sweeney

Team Sweeney

We currently reside in the south and in a triangular area of a state that has deep dividing “what team do you pull for?” lines. We’ve been associated with teams for all of our lives. Beginning from the ones we are born in to.  My first team was a family of 12.   We could actually field our own football team, with a substitution for injury to boot!  An Irish Catholic group whose heart and soul could stand close to any Notre Dame team. My father had a friend actually suit our family up. This gear was pre Adidas or Nike contracts. Our small frames and entire backs  were incased with the letters SWEENEY.  Now and then when we went on family excursions to Kings Island or Disney, we would proudly don our jerseys, making it easy for my parents to assess if a child had strayed from the flock.  My mother, who has in uncanny sense of preserving our childhood memories, recently “presented” me with my  jersey.  I was Lucky number 12.  Memories flood back now when I see my youngest wear it to sleep at night.  I am thankful to recollect my first official group.

Don - Indian Hill Jersey

Don – Indian Hill Jersey

Don has been a life long team member.  The first jersey number he can recall – 21.  His favorite number – 70.  He literally has played a role at every capacity a team member can be.  Father, player, coach, recruiter, husband, speaker, rookie team trainer, brother, statistician, water boy.  You name it.  He has been it as some point in his lifetime, from little league, Indian Hill, Wittenberg, Ohio University, UVA, Capital, Ohio State, Southern Illinois, New Mexico State, Boston College to NC State.  His hope is that whatever lives he touched during this process, they were positively influenced and changed.  At our wedding rehearsal dinner one of his  close friends and fellow team mate, Scott presented him with his basketball jersey.  It was from their alma matter Indian Hill, where they proudly took the Eastern Hills League by storm in basketball. They fondly reminisced about their playing time and the roles they played on and off the field in each others lives. Being a part of a team is special and those relationships formed generally last forever.  We hope our kids remember more of the process of being on a team than their stats.   As parents, we would rather our kids receive a good teammate or sportsmanship award than a MVP any day.

We all like to be on the winning team, or working feverishly to achieve that status.  In this profession many ethical and great leaders have been “cut loose” because their wins didn’t necessarily translate to victories that were seen on a score board.  When Don had made his mind up to go ahead with the deep brain stimulation surgery, we both felt the immediate need to evaluate our team.  Don had been seeing a neurologist at Duke that was recommended when we relocated to North Carolina.  He was fine.  I’m sure inundated with patient overload had caused our appointments to be short and for several phone calls and emails to be unreturned for days.  After asking a few questions about his surgical experience and knowledge with DBS, we decided, together, that our team needed new players.  Research ensued, phone calls placed and meetings / appointment set.  We decided that we needn’t search far. We had found the right facility.  We just needed 5 star rated players.  We came together for the first appointment, armed with a defense of questions that would take hours.  Don stated our intentions of assessing his candidacy for DBS and we were looking for the right person to lead this effort.  One of the keys would be,  if you were going to cut into his brain and body, we would need a little better response than what we had been receiving from the previous doctor.  It felt right from the moment we shook hands. Our defenses put at ease.  We confirmed what the best game plan and forms of communication would be and to date his attention has been amazing.  So great, that a veteran recovery nurse remarked out of surgery that she rarely sees surgeons examine their patients in recovery, but there was Dr. Turner – just checking in.  He has been the beacon of light we needed to make such a large decision and I’m glad were weren’t afraid to make an adjustment.

Having worked in athletics now for 30 years, we completely understand the word loyalty and dedication to a team and now a cause.  So, when someone has any question of what team we root for……. we will proudly claim Duke.  So, go Coach K!  Carry on Coach Cutcliffe and most importantly, thank you Dr. Turner and Duke Hospital for the first class care that we have received.  We couldn’t ask for a better team in a battle that isn’t just a season at a time but everyday of our lives.

duke logo

The Sands of Time

DSC_0703

I love design – reading about it, discussing it endlessly (my apologies to my friend Elizabeth), reviewing and tweaking mine, pinning my wish lists and dreaming of. I am a by nature a set designer. Everything in our home has meaning and some sort of attachment. Three years ago during the holiday season, on a trip to Anthropologie I stumbled upon a sand timer. It made me do a double take. A simple piece of beautiful handblown glass with silver crystal like sand sitting in the base. I had already checked out and then I inquired as to how many more were on hand. I only saw two. After checking the back for stock, they appeared with a total of 5. I declared I’d take all. This would be the gift to our closest friends that holiday season.

This hourglass piece, when I looked at it I didn’t just see something that was structurally beautiful or that just measured time. Some may see it as a conversation piece but I saw it as a meaningful listening tool. I had already visioned where it would live in our home. So as soon as I returned, it was placed in the living room or as my children call it, the meeting room. After school this is where I open mail and they decompress about the day they’ve conquered. Its our regrouping point. All uninterrupted by televisions or phones. We don’t spend much time in this room but it’s our sanctuary. Libby noticed it first and I explained the purpose of it. She flipped it over watching the sand for what seemed like a lengthy amount of time to transfer down through the glass channel into the bulbous end on the other side. She remarked how “cool” it was. I think she could have watched it forever, attempting to count each morsel of sand. I told the girls what my thought was for this new acquisition to our home. If any of us were ever happy, had a question, mad, sad, scared or just needed to be heard, this is the tool they would use to have the floor, uninterrupted. Our own pro-bono , free of fee therapy session. Just turn it over and start talking. You have until the sand reaches the bottom to speak your peace, deliver your news, plead your case or just be silly. With two girls I have always been focused on keeping the lines of communication open in our home. I assured them that if I were using it to speak my mind about something I was upset with them over – that by the time the last sand sliver had touched the bottom glass my anger would be gone and I would let it go. In theory, this sounds good and I attempt to maintain this commitment- but flashing forward to high school years- there may have to be an amendment to these rules! We have had a lot of fun with this. So much fun that Libby actually broke our first one. I think lots of truths have been spoken and more importantly heard. I treasure this small accessory.

The first holiday present I handed out that year was a couple of weeks early. My daughters best friends mother was fighting colon cancer at 39 valiantly. I placed a note in the box – stating what my hope for her family was. That all the hard moments would be gone by the time the sand had shifted sides. Unfortunately, she passed away a few months later. The rest I distributed to my closest girlfriends. Sharing with them a simple quote and a note about how clear I was on the importance of their friendship and how vivid I saw their roles in our life.

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”-Niccolo Machiavelli

Preparing for Dons impending surgery, we have spent a lot more time in the “meeting room” and we are a little less formal about picking the hourglass up and turning it over to speak. That is of course, unless someone is in trouble…. As our truths have been spoken lately, I wish for the same note that I placed in Lisa’s box…. a hope that the sands are shifting.

Our Count Down To A New Year!

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New Year Ball Drop

Our own virtual Dick Clark, ball dropping count down has begun!  We are 1 week- 7 days  – and as of right now 168 hours until we undertake a surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation.  Many things are in the air.  The outcome, our new normal, job situations, etc.  But as many people watching and waiting for that ball to drop we are enthusiastic and eager about the hope that lies before us.

We will have our own cast of performers.  Unfortunately the following weren’t available Ryan Seacrest, Lady Gaga, or Justin Bieber. Although I do really wish Anderson Cooper was available to hold my hand!  Just real heroes, like the great doctors from Duke University, Dr. Turner and Dr. Hickey and their wonderful supporting crew.  The party will be intimate.  Our closest family and friends – for whom we can’t express enough gratitude.  They will come in during the light of day and stay well into the darkness of midnight if needed.  They will help make it seamless for our girls. They will shower them with love and hugs – with even more vigor than strangers do during the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve.  Believing with us that this will bring a new light to our lives.

There wont be a script or a teleprompter.  Just simple words spoken in the days leading up of gratitude for the life we’ve had together thus far , upcoming plans- and boy do we have plans! and uncomplicated words of love.

Tick……Tock

Link

Don Horton Steps Down

NC State tight ends coach Don Horton will no longer coach, but will remain on the Wolfpack staff as the assistant director of football operations, the school announced on Thursday.

“It is with great excitement that I approach the next step in my professional career in athletic administration,” Horton said in a prepared statement. “Coach [Tom] O’Brien and NC State athletics have offered my family and me a great opportunity to become involved in the administration and I am extremely grateful. I would like to thank all those who have made this next step possible.”

“I am thrilled to have Coach Horton continue in his career here at NC State,” O’Brien stated. “As a member of our staff for the past 15 years, he has been more than an excellent football coach. He has also has done a tremendous job developing young men and setting high standards when it comes to hard work and how to do things the right way. In his new role, he will continue to benefit everyone associated with this football program, and we are as excited about this opportunity as he is.”

Horton began coaching at Ohio State in 1982 as a graduate assistant. He made coaching stops at nine other schools and made the trip to NC State with O’Brien in 2007. He has mentored more than 15 NFL players and has coached in 12 college bowl games.