Ask a kid: “Who are your heroes?” Chances are they’ll give you the names of made-up people. Huh? He-Man. Barbie. I don’t understand it about heroes, it really bothers – what happened to the time when heroes were flesh-and-blood people? You know, people like Emma Goldman or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn or Mother Jones or Big Bill Heywood or Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, great boxers, you know, Joe Lewis. Grandparents! What’s wrong with your grandparents being heroes? ~ Utah Phillips, Heroes
This is one of my favorite Utah quotes. The importance of real heroes. It's huge when you think about it, and it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort on the part of the adults raising up kids to find good heroes. Real heroes. One of the things I try hard to do is collect stories of everyday heroes. I think it's good to share a combination of incredible people and the amazing average Joe. Because really, when you think about it, every incredible hero started out average.
An oldie, but one of my favorites. Their dramatic (pretend) fear of an alligator. Avery is on the far right.
A story I've recently collected, and will tell and retell to my children is about our friend Avery. Avery was born with a congenital heart defect and endured 3 heart surgeries by the age of four. Each time Avery grows, the artificial pieces that make his heart work need to be replaced. Before we left Louisiana his parents were watching with a wary eye, knowing his body was not getting the oxygen it needed and that another surgery was on the horizon. They visited Avery's surgeon in Boston this summer and confirmed that indeed, surgery was necessary, and they scheduled it for September 30th.
On September 16th I got a text message from Andrea, my dear friend and Avery's mama. Please, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. The insurance company denied Avery's surgery.
My heart sank. The Boston Children's Hospital has taken care of Avery from infancy. These people know his heart like no other and Avery's parent's are confident in their ability to best care for their son. Plane tickets had already been bought. They had arranged care for Avery's two younger brothers for their three week stay in Boston. My friends, who are very much your average one income household people, have no doubt stretched their budget to the limit with personal expenses traveling to Boston to continue Avery's care. Denied.
Over the next few days, I would carry them in my heart. Thinking of them constantly. Wishing. Hoping. Praying. I got little updates here and there from friends. I watched as my usual soft spoken friend Andrea became one hell of a mama bear. Standing her ground with cardiologists and surgeons, repealing the insurance company's denial.
And then, after being away from the computer all weekend I would come home to find that their appeal had been denied, but they still did not give up. With the backing of family and friends they contacted everyone they knew asking them to support a grassroots effort to repeal the insurance company (again) and get Avery's upcoming surgery approved. People wrote emails and made phone calls to legislators, senators, & congressman.
And it worked.
Last night I got the best text message ever. Avery's surgery is approved!
Three days before their scheduled departure. Approved.
The whole thing is amazing to me. The tenacity and great love with which these people acted. They persevered, truly. And they won. They became a story I will tell to my own children again, and again. These average everyday people became heroes.
All for Avery.