Possibilities Are Endless

Editor’s note: Today’s blog post is from Amanda Bowdoin, M.Ed., a certified teacher of the visually impaired in Texas. She earned her master’s degree in visual impairment from Stephen F. Austin State University. Amanda is also a mother of twins, JD and Oliva, who are 11 years old. Her son JD has CHARGE Syndrome and is deaf-blind.

Erin Bowdoin running in a triathlon pushing her son JD who has CHARGE Syndrome in a stroller

Imagine being told by your doctor when your child is born that there is no chance of your baby making it, that he is going into renal failure, and needs not one but two heart surgeries followed by more than 25 surgeries over the next 11 years. Imagine after nine months in the hospital bringing him home with 24-hour nursing care, oxygen tanks, having a trach, and trouble gaining weight. Imagine at four months being told by your insurance caseworker to let him go and pull the plug. Imagine having him with his twin sister who also needs attention, love, and support. Imagine all of that…

Now, imagine 11 years later he is getting healthy, communicating with American Sign Language, walking with support, and doing his first triathlon.

My son JD Bowdoin was born on September 13, 2005 with CHARGE Syndrome, visual and hearing impairments, and needing breathing treatments every three to four hours with 24-hour nursing care. I was scared at the hospital and had to make some quick decisions with my husband. I know he wanted a son and no matter what, he had a love for him that I had never seen. Today, they communicate through sign language and share the love of watching Texas Christian University football and baseball.

Over the summer, JD learned to love the water and was part of the Ellis County Sting Ray Special Olympics Team. He came in first place twice at the Area Meet in Rockwall, Texas. On September 5, JD got to be a part of a Triathlon in Waxahachie, Texas. With assistance and lots of support, JD was in a raft for the swim and a stroller for the bike and run. As his mother, I am always inspired by JD’s motto of "not giving up". I got to swim with him and run the last part of the race. It was so emotional because 11 years ago at that moment I was in the hospital not sure of what was going on with my twin babies. Today, all of those worries and what-ifs became possibilities for him and our family.

This was all made possible with the help of Rick Phelan, who did the triathlon with JD and calmed my fears and worries. JD had so much support from his coaches—Kelly Rozier, owner of Buffalo Creek CrossFit, and John Zabojnik, an Ironman competitor—and the Waxahachie Running Club and Triathlon Club. Some of the comments about JD were how much he was smiling, clapping every time he saw a fellow runner, and laughing every time Rick would go over the bumps.

As I close, I just want parents to know that anything is possible and there are people who want to run with your child and give them the smile you want to see. That day was an emotional day for my family, and I will always remember it.