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Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation blog: Redefining Miracles One Connection at a Time, Dec. 13, 2017

This year’s birthday card is a very accurate depiction of our family; we always wear Santa hats; Greta and I always match, as do Carver and Geoff; Geoff certainly has tan skin year around given his outdoor work opportunities, and this is our daughter’s self proclaimed “best wheelchair daddy drawing ever.” She had done an earlier one in the day just of Geoff and me with the word “LOVE” over our heads but spend so much energy on the details of the large black wheelchair that she forgot to leave enough room for his body. See below photo. I wonder for how many more years I’ll still be drawn as the tallest member of my family.

There will come a day when the homemade birthday cards will end because our kids won’t be interested any longer in making them. But perhaps, that’s the crazy mom thing I will make them do until they have families of their own? Ask them to draw our family portrait year after year. It’s like the measuring ski we take out twice a year to see how much they’ve grown. They can’t believe they were once just two feet tall. Seems impossible! Growth comes to us uniquely, miraculously in so many different ways. Miracles come in the form of technology, changes, places, connections, and people- even when we least expect their arrival.

This summer we met Rob Summers who came to Little Squam Lake and Eastern Adaptive Sports so he could learn to use a handcycle, which he rode to compete in this year’s New York City Marathon for Team Reeve.

Together with Julie Grauert, his longtime girlfriend and news anchor for Boston 25 News, they raised more than $27,000 for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. Watching Rob and Geoff interact with one another is redefining miracles. Julie and I became connected because I thought she might like reading my novel True North, so I sent her a copy to review. I’ve often been “accused” of endless positive energy, and then I watched an interview with Julie and Rob and thought, “Wow, she takes my enthusiasm for life to a whole new level”–she re-energized me at a time I didn’t even realize I needed recharging. In a recent note to me, Julie shared, “What I’ve learned about miracles is that they occur exactly when needed. Rob signed up to handcycle the New York Marathon before he even had a bike. Within days, a friend connected Rob to a miracle-worker like Geoff Krill, who loaned Rob a handcycle and trained him how to use it.”

Geoff was excited to share cycling equipment with someone like Rob and take him waterskiing for the first time since his spinal cord injury, suffered 11 years ago in a hit and run accident. As happy as Rob was to handcycle and waterski for the first time, he had his own amazing story to share with Geoff about being the first individual to have an epidural stimulator implanted in his lower back. They were just two guys hanging out on a nice summer day chatting about the miracles of technology and invention which linked them together. The Reeve Foundation brought them to this right time and place.

Another link formed many years ago when Geoff worked for New England Disabled Sports at Loon Mountain. Here is the place he learned to ski again following his spinal cord injury in 1995 and where he began his professional career as a PSIA certified alpine and adaptive instructor, later evolving from volunteer coach to the Sports Director for many years. In this role, he once mentored a young Sam Fairchild, who was fascinated with the engineering of adaptive equipment and teaching, truly passionate about disabled sports even as a teenage volunteer Geoff many years ago. He now works for the Reeve Foundation in their development department. He was my link almost two years ago now, when I started blogging, who thought, “Hey, Heather, there might be an audience for your writing here at Reeve.” Here we are writing, cycling, waterskiing, and working together and individually to affect positive change in the world of spinal cord injury. With 2018 right around the corner, how will you redefine your own miracle one connection at a time?

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