#192 – Dick Bernard: Heather 'n me 'n The Smooch! Project 'n The Rave!

The evening of May 4, my wife and I spent a delightful time out at Aronson Field in suburban Lakeville. Here a group of irrepressible adults engaged in the game of softball. These are all adults who are called “disabled”, one of them my Down Syndrome daughter, Heather.
This night was billed as a pre-season “scrimmage”, so each player had at least one time at bat. Heather’s turn came, and she got a single. She was not relaxing on the way to first. She was running!

Heather enroute to First Base May 4, 2010

At First Base, she was all business. Soon she was standing on Second. Another ball was hit, and she took off, rounding Third enroute to home plate. Unfortunately the ball got to the catcher before Heather did and she was out. But she was pumped up. What a gal!
Heather is 34 now, and I thought back to many dark days before 1980, during which she went through, to my recollection, several heart procedures at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis under the care of Dr’s Katkov and Singh. She’s lived with an implanted pacemaker since before 1980. There has been a remarkable advance in technology since those early days when the pacemaker had a single pace…running was no option for Heather. Today’s technology allows variable physical activity, and Heather takes good advantage of it.
Heather and I shared another piece of “fame” lately.
On April 6, the local St. Paul affiliate of ABC, KSTP-TV, aired a two minute segment about The Smooch! Project. March 24, Heather and I happened to be at The Smooch! Project ‘gittin our pitcher took’ at the time KSTP-TV photo journalist John Gross showed up to film a potential feature. He expertly distilled an hour on-site into this segment which lasts less than two minutes. At the KSTP website there is a link to The Smooch! Project. Do visit.
I knew this photo session would be special, and it was.
I wasn’t prepared for the personal emotional content of the hour in the studio. It brought back nearly 35 years of “Heather ‘n me”, her sisters, and brother, and Mom.
It’s time I write Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, and Dr. Amarjit Singh of Children’s Heart Clinic across the parking lot from Childrens, to tell them of this link, and to revisit long past years.
Heather played softball last year, too. There are blog posts about my feelings here and here.
There were many times in the past 34 years where I could not have imagined ever being involved with the Smooch! Project with Heather; or watching Heather play softball. That’s likely where the emotion came in.
Thanks to Bonnie Fournier of Smooch! Project, the Heart team at Children’s, my family, and many, many others, I’ve had my opportunity.
Now, Heather, “Go RAVE!”
And to Bonnie, all best wishes for great success with The Smooch! Project!

Heather's Jersey, May 4, 2010