... this recent ESPN story
about Oregon Ducks
running back coach Gary Campbell, his wife, Alola, and their 28-year-old
son, Bryan. That's because it's not really about football, but about
life and love. Bryan was born with spinal muscular atrophy, and
doctors said he wouldn't live more than a year, at the most.
"The two doctors who made that prognosis that Bryan would live less
than a year are both dead," Gary said. "So he outlived
Bryan, 28, has outlived the odds and actuary
tables. According to Dr. Christine DiDonato of Lurie Children's Hospital
of Chicago, about 1 in every 6,000 to 1 in every 10,000 infants are born
with spinal muscular atrophy. About 60 percent of those infants are born
with Type 1 SMA, which is the most severe and deadliest form of the
hereditary disease. There is no known cure. Not long after his birth --
and a series of life-saving procedures -- doctors told the Campbells
that Bryan could remain alive only with life-support assistance. Had
they considered, the doctors gently asked, taking Bryan off such
Considered it? Not for a moment.
"No, we could not pull the plug," Gary said.
Bryan is still alive, nearly thirty, and he is loved deeply by his
parents, who refused to give up on their son, and who never will, even
though "Bryan has never spoken a word. He can't breathe on his own.
He can't eat on his own. He can't move his arms, hands, feet, legs or
head. He requires 24-hour medical care."
"Bryan is a
miracle because, first of all, he defied all the odds," Gary said.
"I think what he did most for our family is he brought us closer
together. We circled the wagons, our entire family, and we were
determined to make Bryan a part of that family and to keep him as happy
as possible for as long as he was going to be alive."
Bryan hasn't just defied the odds, he's ignored them. And to watch the
way Gary and Alola tenderly assist their son, it's hard to imagine how a
family could be any closer.
"We were afraid," Alola
said of the months that followed his birth. "We didn't know
what was coming next. We just knew that here is a beautiful baby boy
that we wanted to take home and wanted him to be normal. Wanted him to
grow up to be a football player like his dad. But then reality started
sinking in: That's not going to happen with Bryan.
brought him home to die, and he's still here with us."
the television piece based on this article (and which I'm recalling here
from memory, as I cannot find it online), reporter Gene Wojciechowski
asked Coach Campbell, "If Bryan could say something to you, what do
you think it would be?" Campbell paused, then said, "I don't
know. But I think he might say, 'Thank you for loving me.'" What a
powerful witness to love. And to life. Which always go hand in