by Rachael Maaske
Hello Mac family. I was encouraged to introduce our children to the new families and those that may not know our story. In October 2014 our (then 4 year old) son Caleb and his big brother Elijah were recruited to the Macalester football team through an amazing organization called Team Impact.
Team Impact matches college sports teams with children that have chronic and/or life threatening medical conditions. Caleb was born with a misunderstood and unknown incurable brain disorder which impacts his daily life greatly, called Chiari Malformation.
We did not know about this condition until he was two years old after an already scary and difficult journey. He has undergone and continues to go through many procedures and surgeries, including brain and spine surgery. He still suffers from many other issues that come along with Chiari, including seizures and chronic pain that is debilitating many days.
His most difficult days begin once the fall starts with the weather changes and lasts until spring. This alone, is why Mac has changed our lives. We have games and practices to look forward to on the hard days. When he is scared or struggling to make it through another painful and terrifying procedure he has his team of brothers to count on. He has his Mac jersey to wear as his armor to make him feel the strength we know he has. When he steps on campus he is a normal, carefree and worry free 6-year-old.
We arrive at campus many times after a very hard week or dark days and he can hardly walk...as soon as he sees the team it's magical. Every pain and fear disappears. He transforms! And as soon as we leave, as soon as they are out of sight, the pain and exhaustion washes over him. But for those moments, the games of tag, the laughs, the high fives and hugs, gave him joy that we will never be able to provide.
Macalester has recruited Elijah (big brother, now 7) as well. We couldn't do it without him being included 100%. He has seen his brother suffer more than any child should. And since joining the team we added a 3rd teammate, Isaac is now 1-1/2.
Please feel free to introduce yourself when you see my kids (they will be the ones who believe they own the field). You can friend me as well, if you desire. Especially this time of year, my FB is filled with Macalester pictures. (Warning though, September is Chiari awareness month and there will be a lot of posts about that) And if you want to follow Caleb's Caring Bridge page I usually update it when there is something new going on or tests and procedures. We look forward to meeting you all and continuing to make friendships that we will continue to cherish.