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Thankful for my caring daughter

Alejandro Escalona

Alejandro Escalona

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Updated: December 24, 2012 6:24AM

We should’ve realized back then that there was a serious problem. But we were just having fun on a hot summer day in the backyard.

You were almost 3, Isabela, and you kept beating your older brother Daniel to race back and forth. When Daniel began crying because he just couldn’t win one race, your abuelita held you back just enough to allow your brother get a head start. Even then you crossed the finish line together.

Soon after, we found out that your brother suffers from Duchene muscular dystrophy, a progressive debilitating disease that mostly affects boys and for which there is no cure. Later, we began to tell you that your brother couldn’t jump, climb or run as well as other kids because he had “sore muscles.”

You have always been there for Daniel. You were there to help when Daniel began crawling up and down the stairs because he knew he didn’t have enough strength in his legs. You were there when we began pushing Daniel in his wheelchair to go to elementary school a few blocks away.

Ironically, as your brother’s body became more and more debilitated, you became an athlete. I knew you had great physical ability since you were 5 and began playing soccer. You have become an excellent player on the local traveling soccer team. This year, as a junior in high school, we hope you’ll make it to the varsity team.

It hasn’t always been easy. I remember you cried yourself to sleep one season that you didn’t make the traveling team. But you have shown great determination.

And you’ve worked hard for it. During the season, I see you get up at 5:30 to be at the high school gym at 6. You hardly ever miss practice.

And your brother has been there for you too. Daniel has been in his wheelchair cheering for you from the sidelines countless times.

Your mom and I worry about the impact that having a seriously handicapped brother will have in your life. We know how difficult it has been for you not to do normal things with your brother like riding bikes, going for a swim or just hanging out without worrying about the wheelchair, “the elephant in the room,” as your brother calls it.

We now know your brother’s illness has been a mixed blessing. We’ve seen you become a caring young woman. Last summer, you spent a week as a volunteer at a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp helping kids in similar physical condition as your brother.

You have also become involved in Best Buddies, a nationally recognized organization that promotes one-on-one friendship and development activities for kids with physical or mental disabilities. We are so proud to see you become an advocate for people with disabilities.

Last Saturday, you spent the afternoon with your best buddy teaching other handicapped kids how to dance. I was delighted to hear you talk about how much fun you had dancing with your buddy and other kids with disabilities.

At the dinner table on Thanksgiving, I will take a few moments to thank you, Isabela, for being a great student who is becoming a compassionate and caring young woman.

Thank you for always being there for your brother — and for your mom and dad.

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