The Invisible Boy

January 21, 2009

He wants to be invisible, she tells me. When we’re out he clings to me and turns his face into my side and it’s like he wants the the whole world to look in the other direction, away from him and his weakness and his wheelchair.

She sighs. Your sister told me, when they got back from DisneyWorld, that he was unhappy in the crowds, that he was embarrassed when they couldn’t get him onto the rides, that he just wanted to hang behind everyone else and hide.

He knows, now. My mother chokes on her words. He sees himself. He sees what he thinks everyone else sees. And he hates it.

I have no response. We whisper our I love yous and hang up the phone. I have no response. I just cry.

When Tanner was diagnosed with the condition that will kill him, he was four years old. He was a boisterous preschooler with a big smile and a habit of barreling at you at top speed and knocking you down, the better to wrap his little arms around your neck and wet your cheeks with slobbery kisses. His gait was a little funny – he walked on his toes, like a wannabe ballet dancer, and lost his balance, a little, sometimes, going up stairs. But nothing that made him seem anything other than the adorable cyclone of a four-year old that he was.

But then it became clear that he wasn’t walking as well as other kids his age. A caregiver commented on the unusual shape of his calves. He continued walking on his toes. A physiotherapist was consulted. Then a doctor. Then the geneticists. And then, one evening, I got a phone call from my mother, telling me that they’d finally gotten the results of the tests and that Tanner had something called Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. What’s that? I asked. And then my mom burst into tears, and said something incoherent about muscles and dying and I felt a chill roll down my back, I felt it run like a stream of cold water from the base of my skull and down along my spine and, with the phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder and my mother’s cries echoing across the wire, I brought my fingers to my keyboard and Googled Muscular Dystrophy, Duchennes and the chill turned to ice. He would die. His muscles would disintegrate and he would die.

No cure. No hope.

For the first year, it was easy to wrap ourselves in platitudes like live for the moment and seize the day and rejoice in the time that you have because Tanner didn’t change much, not at first. His walking got a little more awkward, but he was still a rough and tumble force of a little boy who loved nothing more than fierce hugs and cuddle-wrestling. To anyone who didn’t know him, he was just another ordinary child. No clock ticking over his head, no enemy within. Just a boy. But then he started undergoing steroid treatments, which affected his behaviour, and his physical condition deteriorated and continued deteroriating and word started getting out among neighbours and school-peers that he was sick. Disabled, obviously, but not only that: disabled, and marked for death. Some children started teasing him, and he began to understand.

That was over two years ago. That was over two years ago, and Tanner has since learned – we have all learned – to cope with the reality of his illness. That is, we think that we have, until we see Tanner recoil in embarassment from his wheelchair, or refuse to make eye contact with other children. Or tuck his head against his mother’s thigh at DisneyWorld and insist that, no, he doesn’t want to see if they can accommodate him on that ride, or this one.

This, this is a terrible heartbreak. We imagine, we believe, that all sick or disabled (no, he is not differently-abled. He is 8 years old and he can neither run nor play sport with other children. He experiences his condition as a disability, something that prevents him from doing that which he most wants to do) children bear their conditions nobly, and with good spirits. We watch the TV shows and the movies and our hearts are lifted by these brave little souls who carry their fates with dignity. We forget, however, that these are mostly fictions, that however noble are our beloved broken children, they are still children and they hurt like children and they fear like children and they cry like children and is there anything worse, really, for a child, than to be constrained in a chair – embarassed, ashamed – at the happiest place on earth while all the other children race and play with abandon?

Tanner wanted to hide. He wanted to not be seen. He wanted his weakness, his powerlessness, his sickness, his bound-in-a-chairness to be wrapped in a cloak of invisibility. He wanted – in the middle of all of the joy and all of the celebration and all of the hope (and yes, Disney does these things so well, with its spontaneous choruses of dreams really do come true, with its sudden eruptions of dance and sparkles, with its ever-present proclamations of joy, you can almost taste the hope, the magic) – to disappear.

And I don’t even have words to describe the hundred million ways that my heart breaks – that it shatters – to know this. I don’t have the words to describe the force of my wish that this just weren’t true, that this would all just go away, that I could make the disease that is killing him not only invisible, but non-existent. That I could take away everything that makes Tanner want to hide and to bring him out into the sun and say, with conviction, see? there is no darkness here. There is nothing to be afraid of, there is no reason to hide.

There’s a small part of me that wishes, sometimes, darkly, that we could have four-year old Tanner back; that we could go back to those days before the diagnosis when he was a wee bundle of four-year old fury, squeezing us with his round little arms, pummelling us with his joy, living a life of unrestrained happiness, reaching toward a limitless sky. But to have that Tanner back would be turn our backs on the Tanner who lives and loves and pummels us – with the sheer force of his heart – now. And that Tanner – this Tanner – is extraordinary, amazing, beautiful, brave. So, so brave, so, so beautiful. So deserving of being seen. Seen, and included, and loved.

It is not, however, my place to thrust him into the spotlight, to force him to bravely face the crowds and share himself. I can only tell his story, and hope that it gives you – the known and unknown yous who follow his story – some sense of the miracle that he is, this brave little boy who carries this terrible, terrible burden and who nevertheless goes forward, shyly, into the world, hoping to share in its joy. And if it reminds you to make an effort to really see somebody, anybody, who is hiding in a literal or figurative corner, to go over and take their hand and make the effort to let them know that you see them and that you think they are wonderful… well, then, that will have been no small thing.

Do it for Tanner.

Motorola – who sent me on my trip to Disneyworld (which unfortunately couldn’t take place at the same time as Tanner’s trip; one of his biggest wishes has been to someday have a holiday with his cousins, but this is tremendously difficult to arrange, and we were disappointed to miss the opportunity) – has offered me a Motorola Motozine Zn5 camera phone (read about it here; it is awesome) to give away. Which I’m going to do, through a random draw, BUT: in order to be eligible to win, you need to state, in your comment, what you will do to pay your good fortune forward. It can be anything – shovelling the walk of the old lady who lives across the street, or sitting down and having a talk with your kids about being inclusive of kids – like Tanner – who seem different, or making a donation to a charity of your choice (it’ll be honor-system principle whether you follow up or not, but I really hope that you do.) You have until Sunday, midnight.

On my end – because I’m on a one-woman mission to turn every giveaway that hits the internets into a pay-it-forward giveaway – I’m going to make another donation, in the name of the winner, to the organization (Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy) that my sister ran to raise funds for. (If you haven’t already made a donation, please think about doing so. I know that you have other causes to support, and I’ll understand if you can’t, but please, think about it, and maybe pass the request along.) And then I’m going to send a camera to Tanner, so that even if he feels most comfortable on the sidelines, he can share with us what he sees. So that we might, perhaps, see the world from his side, and look there more often.

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    mothergoosemouse January 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    I don’t want a camera phone. I want my heart to stop hurting – and yours and your mother’s and your sister’s.

    And Tanner’s. Most of all, Tanner’s.

    Crazed Mom January 21, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Beautifully written.

    I have no interest in a camera, I do however try to reach out to children and adults that are like Tanner, or developmentally disabled, or is something else that kids make fun or ostracize because of being different in whatever way.

    The disease my youngest son died from 13 years ago was called progressive infantile poliodystrophy. It’s different from muscular dystrophy but we too watched our beloved baby decline for several months before death.

    Prayers for you and Tanner and his parents and brother.

    F*Lush January 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    My daughter died a slow death from a disease that affected her muscles. She could never lift her head, never use her arms or legs, she didn’t even have enough muscle tone to drink from a bottle. When she was alive, before her dx and after, I believed if I had enough will and strength for her she would live. Sadly, that wasn’t reality. A year and a half after her death, both my older children were in school full time, I cried and prayed about what and where my life was going. I was invited to volunteer in an inner-city school. I hadn’t worked in 8 yrs and after being housebound for so long had extreme social anxiety.
    My Roo will be in Heaven 3 years in March and I think she would be very proud of me. I forced myself out of my bed, got dressed, and went to volunteer. It changed my life! and it changed the children’s lives that I came in contact with everyday! I got offered a job…they made up a new job description just for me, and now everyday, I put all that will and hope into kids that usually have no one that believe in them. Their parents are either in jail, murdered, or a family member has been murdered, they usually come from broken homes, they just need love. It makes me feel good to have touched so many children but at the same time….seeing them succeed is the best! My most recent I don’t want to say success, because this sweet young girl did it on her own with my help, but nonetheless did it on her own….she was pulling out her hair in clumps, then her eyebrows, then her eyelashes, her mother is in a mental institution, I gave her a journal, She’s a very BRIGHT girl, I asked her if she liked to write, I knew her answer would be yes…..She asked me if she could write during class without getting in trouble so she didn’t pull her hair, she asked if I would tell her teacher she was going to write instead of hurting herself, yes yes, write all you can, if it makes you feel better WRITE!!! 3 weeks later, she hasn’t pulled out anything………and has written some beautiful, heartfelt, and tragic events of her life….but she’s no longer self-harming. I love my Roo, I miss her, but she helped me to realize a bigger picture……and everyday, through my Roo, I help other kids…..believe and have HOPE.

    Melis January 22, 2009 at 12:16 am

    I found your link on the Grace in Small Things site, and I am so touched by your story, and by Tanners story. My prayers go out to your family– I know a small bit of the heartache that comes with finding out that someone you love is hurting so deeply- and that there is little to be done for it except love them as fiercly as possible with every day you have left.

    I don’t need a phone- if I won it I would donate it- I just wanted to let you know that I care. I’ll be praying for you all.

    Lisa January 22, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Thank you for sharing your stories about Tanner with us. They are beautiful and heart-rending and eye-opening.

    I will pay it forward (whether or not I win the phone) by becoming a mentor to a young person who has aged out of foster care.

    Kaitlyn January 22, 2009 at 12:25 am

    Every bit of Tanner’s story that you tell breaks my heart. I don’t know him, yet I want to take his pain away. I want to take his disease away. Even from your words, I feel like I know this child has such a sweet, sweet soul. I’ll be praying, obviously.

    I can’t enter a contest on the end of these thoughts, on the end of my heart hurting for such a precious child.

    for a different kind of girl January 22, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Tanner is a beautiful boy. All of you are in my prayers. My heart breaks reading of even a hint what must go through his mind.

    This is the year my husband and I really help our sons see there’s a bigger world out there than the part of it they occupy, and we’ve done some volunteer time with Ronald McDonald House locally. We’re encouraging the boys to choose from some ideas, too.

    witchypoo January 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

    My son, who lost his best friend to MD, already pays it forward. In 2003, he gave his new computer to a classmate of mine who needed it for the IT course. Yesterday, she brought the machine to him because it needed repairs. He found parts from his other machines to upgrade it as well as fix it. He has always loved phones. He would be over the moon to have one. I’m so proud of him. I can see his friend, Richie’s eyes twinkling at me as I type this.

    MYSUESTORIES January 22, 2009 at 8:11 am

    When my son was 5 yrs old, there was little boy in the neighborhood who had leukemia. He had lost his hair and started school 2 years later due to his inability to be around kids/colds/etc. With gentle prodding, my son became best of friends with the little boy who had no hair and who was so much bigger than the others. Through my son, other kids came to see that this little boy WAS different, but he was also JUST another little boy. And together, he and my son forged many new friendships.
    My son is now 12 yrs old, and there are lots of kids in his school who are sick/different/etc. I am proud to say my son is one of the first kids to strike up conversations with the not so average children, and this lesson will take him far for the rest of his life.
    I will continue to raise my child’s awareness as to focus on the similarities, not the differences in children.

    Parent Club January 22, 2009 at 9:46 am

    1st off – please don’t enter me for the draw – I hope it goes another reader. I write only in support.

    I do weekly shopping for a elderly aunt who is dis-abled. She is the woman I want to grow up to be…and helping her is a very small thing that I can do – to pay it forward.

    Avalon January 22, 2009 at 10:34 am

    Such a difficult thing, because if I take the hand of someone like Tanner and bring them out of the darkness, am I doing the very thing that makes them the most uncomfortable? In many ways, I have to respect their wishes despite what I would want for them.

    I don’t think there is any easy answer.

    For me, my Pet Therapy work is an attempt to bring a tiny ray of light into those dark places. I love to visit the forgotten old souls in the nursing home. The people who spend their days quietly watching life pass them by. A visit may be the highlight of their entire week.

    I love to visit the people at Hospice, facing their final days, sometimes regretting the choices they have made in their lives, sometimes fighting the inevitable with grace, anger, resignation and hope.

    My favorites, however, are the visits we make to the children in our Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. Kids as young as 3 years old. kids with a multitude of psychiatric and psych-social issues. Some abandoned. Some rejected by a series of homes. All, so far, have been grateful for the limitless warmth from a tail-wagging little dog. No matter how dysfunctional life may be for them, there is something so curative about a warm, soft, sweet animal who sees beyond their behavior issues.

    Every time I walk into one of these facilities with my beloved dogs by my side, I hope I am banishing some shadows, however temporarily.

    Beck January 22, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Poor little man.
    I was straining my brain, trying to think of something I do that’s kind, when I remembered that I am raising two very kind children. If Tanner was in my Boy’s class, he would have a whole-hearted friend.

    And The Baby and I are making cookies for our neighbours across the street today, who are elderly and having a rough winter.

    pandorican January 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I have…enough problems dealing with my own, chronic, (but not imminently terminal) illness. I can not imagine how it must feel to be a young child going through it all.
    I will absolutely (and already do) talk with my child(ren) about being inclusive of people who seem different, and stress the importance of, well, not being an asshole.
    I don’t need to win anything, I’m just commenting for support.

    BaltimoreGal January 22, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I don’t want to enter in this contest, just wanted to share that I lost close family member, my cousin’s son, to a very obscure dystrophy known as Infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (a dystrophy of the brain that begins between 6 months- 1 year and results in death by age 5-10). My cousin lived with me like a sister and to see her son die of this disease, I really do understand how hard it is to watch someone die slowly. What we did not have to suffer is Jacob’s consciousness of his condition and how he felt about being different, because he never knew. I don’t have any words of comfort except to day if your sister could go to this website
    and read this to her son, it might help him to know there are places where he would not be that different.

    Danielle January 22, 2009 at 11:41 am

    What a amzing sweet boy Tanner sounds like. His story is heartbreaking and needs to be heard.

    I would pay it forward by helping our friends that in this economy can not do much for their own families. Even if it is just dropping a grocery store gift card in their mail box annonomously.

    Thank you for reminding us all how fortunite we all are and that we should help those that are not as…Thank you!


    Lindley January 22, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the inspirational story. I lost a child to Trisomy 18 less than a year ago and have been wanting to do something to help parents dealing with sick/dying children because nobody knew what to say to me.

    It’s time to get conversation going and connect with people who can share your pain and worry and I feel like 2009 will be a great time to get this going-thanks!
    linjenals at yahoo dot com

    Bella January 22, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I’m clicking over to The Plan website now and doubling my contribution to the two children we already sponsor. Thank you for reminding me to do better…

    I’m so, so sorry for Tanner and your family. I cry every time I read your words about that strong, brave boy. This is why I could never believe in an interventionist god.

    Please don’t enter me in the contest.

    mom2boys January 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Such a heart breaking story. I will be praying for Tanner and your family that he gives you all the strength to be there for this brave sweet little boy. No one should have to ever go through this.

    I try to give back when I can. I do help by donating clothing and toys and tolitries to our local women and children’s sheleter often. I will looking for other ways to help in 2009. Thanks for sharing this inspirational story.


    Kim January 22, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Tanner’s story just breaks my heart into a million pieces.

    My daughter is disabled (she has Cornelia deLange Syndrome) but she is also mentally retarded, and so doesn’t register her differences ~ that is such a blessing to me. She seems to think that *we* are all weird, what with our walking around, using 10 fingers, talking…what IS that all about, anyway? ;)

    Her condition is “life limiting” ~ she has several physical defects that will inevitably shorten her life. We’ve been blessed to have her for 12 years now, and we cherish each day with her.

    As for paying it forward ~ we’d make an additional donation to the CdLS Foundation. We already donate to several charitable causes in her name, but the CdLS Foundation is the one that is nearest to our hearts, obviously.

    Many prayers for Tanner, for his mom and dad, and for you ~

    Her Bad Mother January 22, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Lindley – yes, a conversation MUST be started. Hopefully it’s getting underway ;)

    Thank you all so much for your good wishes and prayers.

    Paddy January 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Tears flow. Your words are such a gift to all of us. Oftn, I think of the phrase…”Time is the stuff that keeps everything from happening all at once..” Tanner’s time is very much that. And there can be comfort found there. But it hurts so much still, because Time reassures and promises us the love we need now.
    I work as a nurse in the mother -bay unit. I try to pay love forward every night I go to work. If chosen to win, the gift will go to the first family I encounter that needs such a link in order to keep in touch with their families as they sruggle thru the illness of a newborn or child and have to endure separation as a result.
    Bless you Tanner. Please don’t go invisable yet. You are so beautiful.

    LAVANDULA January 22, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    oh catherine i am so sorry that tanner feels like he wants to be invisible…hes a beautiful little boy…there is always someone worse off than we are.i will pay it forward by doing more of the things we are already doing.i am so sorry for the pain you and yours are experiencing.big hugs to yuo all

    Elaine C. January 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I was on the fence about whether or not I had the time to commit, but your posts of the last two days have pushed me over the edge. Whether or not I win the camera phone, I will MAKE the time to volunteer at a local adult literacy program. The first training session is Saturday.

    Amber January 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I have a 3 year old daughter with Leukodystrophy. She is the happiest little girl in the entire world and I dread the day that she, too, wants to become “invisible”. Why must people be so cruel? It’s because they are ignorant and afraid of anyone who is different. By putting Tanner’s story out there, you’re helping educate people. Thank you for that.

    The Caffeinatrix January 22, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t need the phone. Would rather someone who does have that chance to win. That said, I’m so sorry about Tanner. I know the sinking of his spirits must be incredibly painful for all of you. I know it broke my heart just reading it. I wish I had some easy answer. Or a magic spell. Something that would help him.

    About paying all my good fortune forward, I will continue to do all the charitable work I already do with various local humane societies and animal rescue organizations, as well as my work at Green Mom Finds trying to get everyone to act in the name of safer toys and food and cleaner air and water :)

    Jessica McFadden January 22, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    For the rest of the year, I’m going to invite the kids and parents that seem to be on the fringes of the preschool world – whether they’re new to the area or school, shy, perceived as different, whatever! – over for playdates and coffees rather than simply sticking with the same old pals that we already know well.

    I pledge to step out of my and my kids’ comfort zones in order to make other families feel more comfortable.

    Great post and giveaway method HBM!

    Natalie Willis January 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Just yesterday, my 8 yo daughter, who is fighting a brain tumor, wrote about her wish to just be a kid. You can read it on her site, if you are interested. It is so hard to watch a child fight for their lives and fight for their childhood.

    Tanner, his family and yours will be in my prayers. I pray for a day that amazing, special kids like Tanner can be just kids. He is a beautiful spirit.

    Thank you for sharing his story and his fight.


    Ginny January 22, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    What an amazing post. I just was talking to my 11 year (6th grade) daughter about how it is good to treat everyone the same. She has a boy in her gym that is mentally challenged. He has to wear a helmet every day to play. I guess sometimes he puts it on backwards & her friends & her will help him out. She was saying how nice he is & how great it is he tries to play in gym with everyone else. I was so proud of her!

    For the pay it forward, I am always looking for ways of doing things for others. I don't have anything specific because I am trying to naturally do this & teach my daughters to do it as well. My hubby is also always helping out others in day to day life. We struggle with finances, etc, so anything we can to do to help, we try to do!

    Tuesday Girl January 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for charing your family’s story. I wish for peace for Tanner and your family.

    In this new year I am going to reach out more. Recognize when someone can use a hand or an ear like my elderly neighbors. I am going to try and help as much as I can even if it is just as a babysitter, cook or friend for others.

    mommamia January 22, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    It took me two days to read this post. I cried everytime I tried. I lost a son this year to a degenetive brain disorder. He did not know he was different. He was 22 but had the cognitive development of a of a six month old.
    My 18 yr old daughter has cerebal palsy. She does see the stares and hear the talk that sometimes goes on around her. I know it hurts but she is growing into a strong produtive young woman.

    I agree with Lindley I hope conversations do get started.

    I do not want the phone.

    I will be donating to your sister’s walk and another family I know that is going through a hard time.

    Kyla January 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    What I hate most of all is that he has to bear the knowledge of it all. The awareness of what he could once do, slipping away from him.

    And I hate that your sister has to watch it happen and know one day, it will all slip away. I think of her, and you all, often.

    makeetis January 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    This post really got to me. I am still tearing up. I wish your family the best and know you will be in our prayers. As far as the paying it forward I do try. I don’t have much money but I do donate once a year to the childrens cancer clinic. I also have an ederly woman friend who comes and spends time with my family because she is all that’s left of her family. I would want someone to do that for me and I believe what goes around comes around. Again I just want to say I hope and wish and pray for the best for Tanner…

    Rebecca January 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I would love to be able to use this phone to take pictures of the dogs and cats at the animal shelter I volunteer at. I always find myself talking to strangers about adopting animals and it would be so great so show them who’s available at the shelter. I am so so so sorry about your nephew.

    Lee the MWOB Queen January 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    Oh my – I am crying right now – I had no idea what I would be happening upon as I clicked on over here from Hottie’s blog and to read this story and to hear about this brave brave REAL boy is just too much for this mama’s heart right now.

    And what a beautiful writer you are and to think I’m here on a blog that’s named “Bad Mother” and then to read about your mission and your heart and to feel all of this oozing good out into the blogosphere –

    I don’t want that phone – I just want to do some paying it forward. I try to do the little that I can but I like your giveaway mission – I don’t too many of those but I will remember your words the next time I do.

    I will donate to Tanner’s cause and I will do my part to spread the word…

    Bebemiqui January 22, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I will pay it forward by secretly loving on the women around me who are so down on themselves. Which affects their munchkins.

    Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub January 22, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    So sad to hear more about Tanner’s condition. And how heartbreaking that his trip to Disneyworld would be marred by embarrassment about his wheelchair!

    Thanks for being so “pay it forward” conscious. I’ve been trying to do little things over the last couple months to even a karmic score that helped me out in November (you’d have to read my blog to know what the heck I’m talking about)– I pay for people’s Starbucks in the car behind me in the drive-through, I over tip at restaurants, I gave $10 to a h.s. guitar player at a coffee shop (the most rewarding pay-it-forward yet! His face was priceless when I dropped it in his guitar case), and I donated to the ACLU. I plan on continuing with all the little gestures and will think of Tanner the next time I do one.

    Emilie January 22, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I will donate to another cause that is close to my heart. My sister has three children, all with autism. They also have other diasbilities such as food allergies, sleeping disorders, tourette’s and high anxiety. They are also judged and people don’t understand why my 10 year old niece twitches so much. I will pay it forward by donating to both Parent Project MD for Tanner and to Austism Speaks for them. Thanks so much!

    mamatulip January 22, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    I hate that you and your family are going through this.

    I hate it.

    I’m not commenting to enter, I’m commenting to tell you I love you. And I’m thinking of you and your beautiful family.

    I try to keep the ‘pay it forward’ mentality in mind each day, though my focus does blur at times. This is a beautiful post.

    moushka January 22, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    My heart goes out to you, Tanner and your family.

    First I want to share a story of what someone did for my adult daughter. She wanted braces but didn’t have the money to get them. One of her fellow employees paid for all of it, but the only catch was for when she was able to do it to pay it forward.
    He had someone do it for him and was ready to pay it forward and my daughter was the person to receive his gift.
    My daughter won’t be able to pay it forward for many years, but I know she will. And hopefully the kindness will continue to be passed on through the many years it takes to fulfill this gift.

    Me, I would help a good friend that is going through a tough time in her life right now. After finding out her son had luekemia she found out her husband had lung cancer. Her son is recovering, but her husband just went into surgery for his newest cancer of the bladder. My gift is to take care of her kids so that she can take care of her husband.

    Neo-Geek Girl January 22, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    You have a gift for words… you touch a person’s soul with just a few keystrokes.

    I won’t say how I will pay it forward, so that I can’t be eligible for the prize. I just want to tell you I will hold Tanner and you all in my heart and I will make a difference.

    kittenpie January 22, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I would do two things:

    - donate used baby things as we are done with them instead of saving for friends or craigslisting them. The Massey Centre is near us and could definitely use them.

    - when I return to work, make a point of returning to paycheque deduction donations so that i can’t forget to donate throughout the year, not just at those highlight times like runs and food drives.

    (But the phone, I’d give to misterpie, whose phone died and who is not yet eligible for a new one.)

    Haley-O January 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I am so sad, (my heart, too, shatters) to hear Tanner is experiencing these feelings, that he wants to hide.

    It is so important to me to recognize and SAY HELLO to and hold the door for and look in the eyes of people with special needs, and others whom too many people don’t care or can’t bear to acknowledge.

    He should be raised on people’s shoulders, not ignored, stared at, made fun of, shunned.

    I’m daily involved in my animal rights and environmental causes, but, and I will continue to donate annually to Muscular Dystrophy in Tanner’s honour.

    Sending him and your family love….

    Haley-O January 22, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    I wrote my “pay it forward,” but I don’t need the phone…. Someone who needs it should win it. Thank you for the opportunity, though.

    Sherry G January 22, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    i like to help out at our local food bank with my family. we often talk about making this a regular activity because it feels so fulfilling.

    Anonymous January 22, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I’d kidnap my sister and make her take a day off in the city.

    Her Bad Mother January 22, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    F*Lush – oh, my heart.

    Her Bad Mother January 22, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Perks – forgive my ignorance – is SC South Carolina… I`ll look into it..

    thanks so much!

    Buki Family January 22, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    now that im a mom, its so hard to hear about children suffer. i want to do something to make a child smile. i have a lot of connections with Africa and will help raise some money to send some kids to school in Congo, where many kids can’t go to school because their parents can not afford the 30$ for the year’s school fees.

    sarah January 23, 2009 at 12:37 am

    your story about tanner was so inspirational and very touching.

    as for paying it forward, i am going to shovel my neighbour’s driveway and i already donate to the local women’s shelter but i should really do that more often!

    fertawert AT yahoo DOT com

    Bev January 23, 2009 at 12:53 am

    My friend, who fortunately has lived into his 40s, has a rare form of MD that killed his mother in her 30s. He has been wheelchair bound for years, but has recently completely lost the use of his arms and his neck muscles will probably be next. We go out to dinner, we engage in conversation and we allow him to be the witty, intelligent person that he is. We hold his drink, we handle his napkin and no one acts as if anything were different. I think he lives for those rare evenings out. I wish for Tanner a friend that can see beyond the disability and see the bright boy trapped in the illness. Friends are so important.

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