Fight for Life

I am currently working on an event. But before I tell you what the event is, I would like to qualify myself as a father.
When my daughter was two years old she was sitting at her mother’s makeup table and fell from the stool. I wasn’t there to see it, but I was told the stool flipped and hit my daughter Rachel in the bottom of her chin.

I was on my way home from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital when I got the call. Of course, traffic would not agree with me and the Triborough Bridge was behaving like the Triborough Bridge.

Eventually, I made my way home to find Rachel with a deep cut beneath her chin, which meant we needed to take her to a nearby hospital, and have her chin stitched up.
Rachel was calm so long as no one touched her face, and she was in good spirits, considering we were in the waiting area of an emergency room.
This was just an accident and I realized this was probably the first of many.

Little kids fall. They get hurt, the get booboos and moms kiss them on the head to make it all better. But this booboo was more involved. Since the wound was at the bottom of Rachel’s chin, and considered to be facial, the hospital called in a plastic surgeon to properly stitch the opened slice.
I waited with Rachel’s mother for what seemed like years, until finally, the plastic surgeon arrived and the nurse directed us to a room.
My daughter was still in good spirits, but this was because no one touched her face yet.

The surgeon was very unemotional. He had seen cuts like Rachel’s on a daily basis. But I am not a surgeon. I am a dad, and this was no regular cut on some random kid; this was my daughter…

To keep my child still, the nurse put Rachel in a papoose to stop her from squirming while the doctor stitched the wound.
I was fine, for the most part, until my daughter began to cry.
Inside, I felt a certain unexplainable rage. I felt an emotional pain that I had never felt before. My eyes began to water, and I began to pace.

This was before Rachel could speak in complete sentences.
We would tell her, “Use your words,” when she wanted something. She knew how to ask for help. She understood and used the word please, and of course, when she was finished eating or using something, Rachel would say, “All done,” in the tiniest little voice.
But laying in a bed and tied down in the emergency room, Rachel’s voice was no longer tiny. She was screaming, looking at me, and asking, “Daddy, help me please!”
She screamed, “All done, all done,” because she was finished and didn’t want anymore.
Every muscle in my body tightened. I could feel the adrenaline pulsate through my arms and down into my fingers. My jaw clenched and tears ran down my face.

“She’s okay,” the nurse explained. “She’s just scared.”
“Don’t talk to me.” I said. “Just keep sewing.”

I knew that talking to me would only slow the process. I needed to feel what I felt, which was a severe degree of helplessness, but I also needed to maintain myself.

“Really….she is fine,” the nurse insisted. “She can’t feel a thing.”
I repeated myself, “Ma’am, please do not talk to me…..just keep sewing.”

The surgeon lifted his head and looked at me from the top of his eyeglasses. It was winter, and yet his skin was tanned. His hair was mostly gray and still wildly blown from the outside winds.
He was dressed in a white coat over  a turquoise-colored hospital shirt, and there was a stethoscope around his neck.
To complete the picture, the doctor wore surgical gloves, with scissors in one hand, a silvery hooked needle with thread in the other, and he held his hands up as if he had just sterilized them.

The surgeon spoke out, “Sir, if you do not calm down I will have you removed from the hospital.”
With all the rage in my heart, I assured the surgeon, “And I will take you with me!”

Quickly, the doctor returned to the last of Rachel’s stitches.
After she was removed from the papoose, the doctor approached me. He placed his hand on my shoulder.
“I have to apologize,” he said. “I see this sort of thing all the time, but I’m also a dad….so I sometimes forget how it must feel for someone like you.”

I thanked him for understanding.

“You really meant what you said back there.”
He told me, “I could see it in your eyes…..you were serious.”
“That’s my kid,” I told him. “Of course, I was serious.”

There is no manual that comes with parenting. All the self-help books and good advice cannot honestly prepare us parent for say, a trip to the hospital or a doctor’s visit that ends in bad news.
As a father, my job is to protect my child, but accidents happen. My job is to stop as many tears as I can, but there is no stopping life on life’s terms.
Life happens, and whether we like it or not, we cannot always defend our children.

This story, though it may have been hard for me, is nothing compared to the parents facing the severity of “Cancer.”
As a father, I do not know how I would handle news like this. But as a father, I know I have to do something to help the children and parents that face this painful reality.

Last year, I raised money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in order to help children fight cancer.
On the day of our event, I sat beside a little girl, and with the help of a hairdresser, that little girl shaved my head.
Why, you ask?

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I shaved my head because children do not understand what doctor bills are. All they know is they lost their hair during chemotherapy.
So I shaved my head to explain, “You are not alone.”

That little girl had the strength and support to beat and survive cancer. That means she can beat and survive anything!
After shaving my head, I stepped into the other room where a man approached me. He had tears in his eyes.
Why?
The little girl that shaved my head was his daughter…..

Truly, I say as it says in the Bible. “Whatever you do onto the least of my brethren, you do onto me.”
These children are far from the least.

So I say we help them fight back.

This year, we are calling our event “Fight for Life.” It will be held on Sunday March 2nd at The Bulldog Grille in Amityville, New York.
Along with the event’s lead organizer, Lisa Zanello, and partnered with Kerry Cox, and Vinny Luppinacci, together we will hold a family friendly event with bands, prizes, games, and a chance to help save children with cancer.

Our event is now live and donations can be made by logging on to: www.stbaldricks.org
Kindly type my name Ben Kimmel, into the search field and click on the event at The Bulldog Grille March 2nd 2014. Please donate what you can, when you can, and help a child fight for their life!

Enjoy your evening folks

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