Countless Blessings

 Feels like a good time to remind ourselves why we’re on this crazy trip!!

22 years ago, our family got thrown for a loop when we learned early in Jill’s pregnancy that Tommy had spina bifida. The doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said we could participate in a clinical trial of fetal surgery, and Jill bravely agreed. She and Tommy had surgery on March 2, 2001, then Jill recovered at the Ronald McDonald House in Camden. So many people pitched in…the volunteers and staff in Camden, our families, especially Jill’s sister Gina and Matt’s sister Beth and husband Rich, our neighbors, our Immaculate Conception church community, the Methacton community where Matt works…and, of course, the wonderful doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists and support staff at CHOP. 

All Fetal Surgery families know the tornado of emotions prior to, during and after surgery. 

To be in a CHOP Fetal Surgery family means being comforted and lifted up by intelligent, honest and sympathetic professionals who know how lost and overwhelmed you’re feeling. It means hope and realism. 

Tommy was born a “second” time on May 13, 2001, seven weeks early and weighing four pounds, the best Mother’s Day gift ever!

In Tommy’s words, “I wanted to do this bike ride to prove to myself that I could do something people might not think I could do. And I wanted to raise money to help families like mine live the best lives they could.”

Our family is SO GRATEFUL for all the support we’ve received over the years. This trip has truly been all about family…we even added a new member in the middle of it!!! (thanks Allie and Jon…we can’t wait to return home and get to know Bennett!). 

No one ever goes it alone. The donations, texts, phone calls, e-mails…they mean so much. Jill and Kate have each taken time away from their busy schedules to help us through some particularly rough spots…Jill when we first confronted the hills of PA and Kate to get across one especially challenging mountain in PA. 

And just when we were getting bogged down in a hot, humid and detour-filled section of Indiana and Illinois, Jenny brought her smile, laughter and faith to the rescue! 

In Jenny’s words: “In my family’s journey with fetal surgery there was heartache, separation, fear and grief. And as I reflect 22 years later I see that God made it all matter.

In that season of heartache and separation my family experienced the true meaning of community. We had meals, rides, childcare during the day and night, housecleaning, you name it. My parents were supported by the other fetal surgery families sharing in the struggle and lifting one another up. We were covered in prayer by our parish and school family at Immaculate. When I close my eyes I can still feel the way your love surrounded me and carried me 22 years ago. 

In that season of fear and grief, I learned to pray. 

In that painful season we learned about sacrifice. My mom experienced incredible emotional trauma and physical pain for the sake of her son. My dad made sacrifices daily being apart from his wife and to take care of the three girls at home. My ponytail was never perfect but my hair was always done each day for school! 

God took a hard season in my family and made it matter through community, prayer and sacrifice. I pray that other fetal surgery families look back on their journey and, thanks to the donations all of you have made and the kindness of God, they will say the hard things mattered.”

We couldn’t have said it better!!!

1,100 miles down…here we come, Missouri!!!

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