Niagara Gazette — Some days I really love my job. Here’s the reason for my most recent surge of gratitude. Last Thursday I got a phone call about the column I wrote on young Jack Schroeder.
The caller and his wife were touched by the story about the 9-year-old Ran- som- ville boy with autism and how his mom and dad have devoted their lives to watching over him to keep him safe and happy. The Schroeder’s lives were already challenged before they were given jolt of bad news last summer when Jack was diagnosed with Type 1 childhood diabetes.
Jack is lively and loving, but he does not speak, and so there is inherent danger in diabetes as he cannot tell his parents when he’s feeling the most dangerous symptoms of his illness. I wrote about a social media campaign to raise the $18,000 needed to buy a diabetic-alert dog — a 3-month-old yellow lab puppy named Lucy, currently being trained in Texas. (www.adogforjack)
Early on the day the column ran, I got the call from the Niagara Falls couple who wanted to donate a painting to help buy Lucy for Jack. Yesterday I went out and met them. Ed and Jean live in a mobile home park in Niagara Falls and asked that their last name not be used. I’m obliging them, of course.
The retired couple were given the painting by Ed’s Aunt Mina, just before she died. Mina was a wealthy widow who lived on the east coast of Florida. All she really knew about the painting was that it was purchased in Rome, Italy during World War II by her husband, Joseph, a military doctor, who went on to become a successful plastic surgeon.
The painting depicts Madonna and child, — the Mother Mary and her son, Jesus. I think that’s especially touching, because at the crux of Jack’s story is his mom, Nicole, a part-time nurse and mother of two who is his activist, researcher and medical care giver. She is constantly calculating his needs so that he is peaceful and happy. To do that, she must always be on guard, carefully watching whatever he eats and compensating for his insulin levels with shots up to six times a day. Dad, Michael, is the “buddy” who helps keeps Jack’s spirits high, but mom, Nichole, stays very busy keeping Jack well.