We spend our days delivering Big Green Boxes of Cheer to hospitalized children all across America. Each of these deliveries are life-changing, no question about it. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to meet a child that stands out more than others; sometimes we meet the truly unforgettable, a little warrior with a story guaranteed to inspire us all. Get ready world, here comes Grayson!
In a special event with Wells Fargo Private Bank, we delivered Cheeriodicals to Children’s of Alabama Hospital patients in April of this year. This day of spreading cheer was highlighted for all of us when Grayson rode into the room in a wagon pulled by his parents. And when I say rode into the room, let’s call it “take over the room”. He had a quiet sort of confidence, something you would never see in a 3 year old child, especially one with so many challenging medical conditions. He had an aura of maturity, a sense of self only gained by experience from facing struggles head-on and winning. He immediately captured the attention of all of us in the room. His full and evolving story has since captured our collective hearts.
Grayson’s remarkable story is detailed on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Graysonkole and it’s a story that will certainly change your perspective on what a real fighter looks like. His incredible story of resilience is best told by his family; they see his determination daily. Our reference is intended just spread the word of this little guy’s inspirational journey.
In short, Grayson was born with numerous physical challenges and was in a fight for his life from the moment he was born. His mother lists the following medical diagnoses as she tells his story: “occipital encephalocele, craniosynostosis, micronathia, thumb hypoplasia, cleft palate, hypospadias, congenital anomalies of the lower limbs, ASD of the heart, apnea, and he does not appear to be able to hear or see”. Her story continues on to note where Grayson was resuscitated (literally brought back to life numerous times), given a week to live and placed on hospice, endured 23 surgeries to date including surgery to replace his missing skull and cleft palate repair, and so many other daily challenges. This little guy has gone through so many physical challenges in just three years, but has also made incredible improvement along the way. For example, he can hear and see quite well now and is so remarkably smart.
What struck me as much as anything else was how Grayson seemed to take all of his struggles in stride that day at Children’s of Alabama. While the entire room was listening to his emotional life story from his mom and dad, Grayson was just sitting in his wagon, checking out his Big Green Box of Cheer. You could see his mind busily working away at which of the toys and goodies he was going to dig into first. He had lived his own story and hearing that story again wasn’t nearly as interesting to him as a spinning top with new noises and colors for him to see. His sights were set on the fun that was ahead of him that day. He had a forward looking perspective that didn’t dabble too much in the past; he was all about the path ahead, a path full of opportunity.
The opportunity is indeed ahead for Grayson. About a month after that delivery to Children’s of Alabama and meeting Grayson, we saw a video of him on his Facebook page posted by his mother. In this video, Grayson was sitting on the couch beside his brother, rambunctiously taking over the Ipad, and shouting out the 12 months of the year in order. I tried to remember back to when my kids were 3 years old and whether they knew their months or not. Most importantly, I realized this little fighter was now just part of the mix of kids, one of the many. He didn’t stand out because he was different; he stood out because he was so smart. This little fighter was just moving himself through the world like other kids, learning as he goes and doing a few things along the way that were just amazing. He was just another kid, and that’s just what the doctor ordered!
Here’s to Grayson for helping us understand that every child not only has a unique purpose, but that their lives are full of endless opportunities and possibilities. Grayson sees the world without limits and constraints, just blue skies. He realizes that his fight isn’t measured by the loudness of his voice or power of his fists, but rather by moving ahead one day at a time, sort of quietly, just blending in with all the other kids, flashing his gifted smarts from time to time. The term “born leader” is used too often these days, but given the challenges this little fighter has faced, and overcome from birth, I think we can safely place Grayson in that category. Here’s to the little fighter that was truly born to lead us with inspiration!!
If you read this story and would like to connect with and/or assist Grayson and his family, please visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Graysonkole and simply send a message to his mother.