We spent the holidays slightly different this year ~ with a bad fall ~ a 7 day (partially paid through medicare) all-inclusive trip to the hospital.
Don’s morning routine often consisted of placing quotes, reflections and hopes in the girls lunch boxes.
He sometimes references a treasured book someone once gave him because his thoughts aren’t always as clear
however, his optimism is.
Had ~ Be A Leader Love, Dad
Our youngest thought just like her father….. On his first full day at the hospital she asked “Mom can you place this on dads lunch tray today?”
You can do anything you put your mind to – Your daughter Hadley ❤️
The lessons we teach are often non verbal. Love is constant and encouragement can come from a sweet 8 year old child if they have witnessed it in their lifetime.
Children truly don’t think there isn’t anything their parents can’t do~ Hadley and her dads battle with Parkinson’s is no exception. I think deep down this coach is probably proudest that he has a coach-able kid… who might just one day, follow in his footsteps…. whether it’s on the field, court or in life.
a side note* “the p.s. is “you can draw muscle men if you want”. Something he does when she’s coloring with him…. You are never too old or too masculine to color with your kids ❤️
p.p.s. the oldest gets these too
Libby – Be Quick But Don’t Be In A Hurry Love, Dad
Don and I are celebrating our 21st year of marriage.
Not a typo.
Really, it’s been 21 years.
We’ve never been a couple to exchange extravagant gifts.
A few years back I received one gift that I will always cherish.
You see, my mom never throws anything away. Not a hoarder but a complete sentimentalist. Unbeknownst to me she provided Don with a piece of my past that she thought he “might like”. A throw back Thursday treasure. A cheerleading picture (pre photoshop days!).
Always Your Cheerleader
Don, in turn, took my brace faced picture, purchased a side by side frame and inserted his playing days football picture.
Don – Wittenburg Tiger Days
Attached a note that read …….
We are quite the pair. Meant to be. Always by my side. Love – Don
Couldn’t agree more. I can’t find my pom poms or do a herkie any longer but I am cheering him (and many others) on now, in more ways than one.
I participated in a radio show for the National Parkinson’s Foundation South Palm Beach Chapter. In closing the host, Jeff Dowd, asked – “What is one piece of advise you would want listeners to take away from our time today?”
My answer was simple.
Because you are important…. I listen.
I said and truly believe – “I hope everyone would be open to listen. Listen to your loved ones. Hear what they are saying verbally but especially non. It’s often what goes unsaid that stays in our hearts longer.”
You can only affect change by listening. Change in perception, change in environment, change for the cause and most importantly change for their quality of life until there is a cure.
I’ve seen a glance down when something is difficult, feelings of I use to be able to do this bubbling up.
We hear comments by others about his progression while he is standing next to us, as if his hearing is impaired and he isn’t able to understand what is being said about him.
We notice looks and hear sighs when someone doesn’t have patience with his slower pace, as if to say you don’t matter.
We listen as he has a conversation with someone and the person he’s speaking with nods and laughs, as if they understood what he was saying but we know, they have no idea.
All things we take in and process. All things attempting to create defeat. Defeat of a soul. Defeat of spirit. Defeat of your accomplishments. Defeat of human life.
You can’t let that happen because the disease takes away enough.
We have accepted that we can’t completely win our battle against Parkinson’s, only keep it at bay for as long as possible, but, we can defeat ignorance.
So listen, and when you see a shift in you loved ones attitude, rise to the occasion and when you hear ignorance, challenge it.
Instagram is one of those social media platforms that some would say we opened the door too early and allowed our 11-year-old to partake in. Our concession to this method of communication comes with as many rules and regulations as Obamacare. One of the caveats would of course be, to monitor her account. Most of her posts are harmless selfies.
This Sunday when we checked we saw this.
An image of her and her dad at a cotillion father – daughter dance earlier in the year.
The picture is precious to me for many reasons
but now, add her comments (minus the spelling errors)
and it is truly priceless!
Libby is at the age when we, as her parents, can be embarrassing for a host of reasons. However, when your dad is not like all the other dads, physically, it seems to stand out. We are simply, more aware that his Parkinson’s Disease may add to her discomfort or questions from friends.
So, it was refreshing to see her proclaim “no madder” what, he’s her #1 man – for all to know.
The Magic of Hope Gala American Parkinson’s Association
We were lucky to meet many warriors of the disease who are valiantly fighting as well. We were happy to help raise awareness and money for programs and research that we believe will help those afflicted.
Copyright 2014 Garet Munger
We were humbled that Russell Wilson would take a moment to help support our cause by speaking and donating.
Attached is a clip from his tribute to Don.
I know Don was honored to hear Russell’s words but honestly, upon reflection we both agreed that he had given a gift to the Parkinson’s community and our family – especially, our girls.
As the disease progresses and the father they once knew is harder and harder to see, they will have this small token from Russell.
Helping them remember what a difference Don made in his career as a coach and human being.
many ask me personally “What my home run is for our company” My answer is simple. There isn’t one until there is a cure. Therefore, for the month of April – Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we are donating a percentage of each purchase to the michael j. foundation to help fund a cure. I truly belive we are all in this together!
Below is the Blog that was posted on behalf of MagnaReady® and MJF and teamFox
MagnaReady Supports Team Fox for Parkinson’s Awareness Month
Posted by Maura Horton, April 02, 2014
Editor’s Note: With herportion of proceeds campaign launching this April, we asked Team Fox member and MagnaReady creator Maura Horton to tell us the story behind her innovative magnetic button down shirts.
“Mom, will you button my shirt?”
As a mother of two young children, this is a question that I have heard repeatedly over the last 10 years. When one child mastered the skill, the second began to verbalize the same basic need. Somewhere in the mix, I started hearing the same pleas from my husband Don. As the limited mobility effects of Parkinson’s began to set in, he was beginning to struggle with this simple task as well.
First, I started noticing that I was ready before Don; something that had never happened in our many years of marriage. I was the one now standing at the bottom of the stairs inquiring, “How much longer?”, pressing him, “We are going to be late!” During our morning routine, I would witness instinctive, honest-loving moments from our two girls, jumping up on our bed, using it as a ladder, to help their 6-foot-4 athletic father get ready for work by helping him to button his dress shirt. I was naive, and thought that this challenge only happened for him when he was in the privacy of our home, not really giving thought to how Don got dressed when we weren’t around. He has Parkinson’s, but we rarely ever talked about the limitations. To admit to the struggle would mean acceptance.
As a college football coach, Don traveled quite a bit with a busy schedule in and out of locker rooms and hotels. The season brings early mornings and late nights, and honestly not a lot of time for small talk in between. However, on one particular night, after coming in from away game, he was anxious to tell me, “I had a hard day.” He repeated and elaborated, “I had a hard day. A player had to help me get dressed to catch the team plane.” Once he spoke of all the particulars I desperately wanted to help him. This was, after all, a man who never complained.
I realized in his words that despite the wins and losses on the field, here in this moment, my husband felt defeated. His dignity had been lost, and the simple fact that his body was betraying him was almost unbearable. For over twenty years, I had been on the sidelines watching Don be a leader, inspiring his players to be better players; to be better men. Mentally, I knew he could overcome the changes he was going through and could motivate himself to stay strong and move forward, but physically, I realized, that his battle with Parkinson’s was not going to be a fair fight, and I could see that my husband’s spirit was starting to deflate.
Getting dressed shouldn’t be stressful; living with a disability is hard enough. As I thought through how I could help, the epiphany came, and soon MagnaReady – Stress Free Shirting was born. If there is anything that I have learned from being a coach’s wife, perseverance prevails and something constructive comes from every defeat.
How you can join us this April for Parkinson’s Awareness month:
In our office hangs a sign that says – “Remember Why You Started”. Our mission is simple and MagnaReady is dedicated to giving back to the Parkinson’s community that we are proud to be a part of. So throughout the month of April, MagnaReady is committed to donating 10 percent of every purchase to the MJF Foundation during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
When Don and I were dating, some 24 years ago, I would often sit in an office at his alma mater, Wittenberg, waiting for him to “finish one last thing” or make “just one more recruiting call”. He valued his job but more than anything, he was honored to be called a Wittenberg Tiger. I knew then that I was second fiddle to his career and many young men. As I sat there and tried to pass time, there was one 8 by 10 picture front and center on his desk that I stared at. Three men he would pridefully call warriors with tremendous work ethic and mental toughness. Three men that battled day in and day out on the offensive line and in the academic classroom. Three men in the trenches that helped secure an OAC Championship. Three leaders that showed incredible respect for each other and their teammates. Three people he never could forget. Eric Horstman, Scott Bowen, Ken Bonner.
Eric Horstman, Scott Bowen, Ken Bonner.
As Don move on to new challenges, offices and environments, this picture always remained on his desk. Even as our life grew, it became surrounded by pictures of our girls and it continued to provide an instant reminder of his roots. When we relocated to Raleigh, Don brought the picture home. I never asked why but I recall the day he shared the story of these three men he was honored to coach with our girls. It immediately brought me back to the moment he spoke so highly of them to me. Explaining that these men played football in the purest sense. Just for the love of the game. You could feel his sincere admiration.
Then our home was destroyed by fire… a long story for another post…and all of our pictures were scorched. Years were spent replacing and restoring us whole again but sorting through the charred memories was one of the most difficult things I had to do. You have the memories stored in your mind but a picture silently recaptures your emotions and transcends you back to that moment in time. Somethings, we had to accept, would never be replaced.
Don has never been someone who wanted to accumulate “things”. He is not one that wants the latest toys or technology. His birthday was coming up and when you love someone who has a progressive disease, the only gift you want to bestow on them is restored health. Last I searched, I couldn’t find the gift of health. Once you come to terms with the fact that you are not able to grant or find a cure, you hope you can give the gift of a feeling. The pleasurable sensation of what it feels like to not have the disease. A moment in time, a reprieve, a transcended cure of sorts.
Don had reconnected with Scott and Eric this fall. They were kind enough to take time way from their families, travel and pay us a visit. Don was completely honored to share with them at this point in their lives and reminisce about the days of the past. I mentioned the picture – not sure if they would even recall it. Scott relayed that his dad had actually taken it and yes, he was still in possession of it.
So for Don’s birthday this week, with the help of Scott, the picture now proudly is displayed in our home again. A true homecoming of sorts. A momentary cure. A restored reminder of strength, courage and loyalty. A piece of the past providing fortitude for the future. Stories of three men that our girls will be able to hear, visualize and learn from.
With the pictures Scott sent, he enclosed a card with birthday wishes. He signed it “Tiger Up”.
I explained to the girls that this is unwritten “man code”, and really means ~love~