Many people find themselves in the pursuit of a life-changing experience, unfortunately, in far too common places. Nevertheless, that is the last place we seem to stumble upon them. We wait patiently for the gut feeling of a peculiar happening, a unique lesson. Perhaps, the lessons we expect to learn come from around us, rather than upon us. Day by day, we plan our tomorrows, remember our yesterdays, and form a vision of our future, what it will look like and how it will seem. We generally aim for a typical life and guide ourselves by an expectation of how life should unfold. We take calculated risks before perilous ones, purely based on former experiences, and rested assuredly on averages. We will live a life of roughly 77.9 years, approximately 28,433 days. Each day we will have roughly 1,440 minutes to experience and embrace life, taking at least an average of 12 breaths per minute, in which are everything less than guaranteed. What do you say with those breaths? Who do you say it to? How do you respond when your life becomes slightly, or greatly, less, or more than average? What do we take from the experiences that we gain throughout our lives; some lasting for seconds, some for a lifetime.
The Buzinski family is composed of four children, each one more different than the next. Three of the children face difficulties from Neurofibromatosis, which is a disease that causes rare tumor formation throughout the body. Christopher was the second born, soon to be 17. He was diagnosed with NF just after turning eight years old. It was at that point in which the life of the Buzinski's desperately started to take shape. He would face Type 1 NF coupled with Cerebral Palsy and Optic glioma, cancer of his optic nerve, inevitably facing countless surgeries, and recoveries. Zachary, also faces life-threatening complications from his NF, in which he has had multiple surgeries on his trachea to allow for suitable breathing. Brianna is the oldest and faces NF and an assortment of cognitive and social delays. Mia is the youngest and does not have NF, but simply has the task of helping to care for her brothers and sisters. Nonetheless, these children are the happiest, most thankful people I have ever met. Despite the unsure prognoses of their children, the Buzinski's are determined to provide their children with as many normal childhood experiences as possible.
Once you look at the glass half-full, it becomes harder to turn it around and look at it differently. Chris has taught me the great lesson of appreciation; the ability to truly be thankful for the circumstances that are present in ones life, rather than those that are not. If you see yourself, or your situation as disadvantaged, it's a rare temptation to see yourself as privileged. The more we can challenge our perspectives, the more we can allow ourselves to experience, grasp, and eventually learn to integrate into our upcoming happenings. Three years ago, I was a different person. I overlooked the small things on a daily basis and seldom expected a fifteen-year-old boy to drastically change my perspective on circumstances, life, and miracles -- let alone leave me speechless in his footsteps. I met the Buzinski's in Maine, while interning for an organization called Camp Sunshine, which serves children who are experiencing life-threatening illnesses. Christopher is just like any normal boy, loves to swim and fish, poke fun at his siblings, as well as pretend to be Mickey Mantle in a game of backyard slow pitch. Unfortunately, nearly 8 years ago, the expectations of a life like others' would be diminished. I spent a week alongside Christopher and learned more from those seven days than I have in my entire life. He taught me about relentless gratitude, appreciation, and absolute happiness. He is such an extraordinary individual who has beat unexplainable odds, and have left many in awe of his unbelievable perspective on life and love. He is truly a lesson to be learned, an experience to be gained, and an impact and memory to be kept for a lifetime.
When you ask a kid what they want for Christmas, a top three answer is always "a bike". It is the first real self-defining moment for kids. There is something about pure independence on two or three wheels that is gratifying. For Chris, it's only something else that sets him apart from his comrades, allowing him to be anything but average. Christopher's Promise has developed into an organization that grows on a daily basis. We are fortunate for the relationships we have established and couldn't be more committed to continuing to help more kiddos get on bikes and just be kids.
This family has truly given me a second look at life, they have showed me true beauty and character, but have also answered my question: What happens when the great theory of normalcy becomes invalid? When what you expect in life doesn't actually happen? It is in this instance that one begins to accept and realize lessons can be witnessed in greatness and it's opposite. Life and love can be experienced against the grain or outside the norm, outside boundaries, and above boarders. The idea of average is the borderline that keeps mere men in their place. Those, similar to the Buzinski's, who step over the line and chart new boundaries, are the heroes by that very act.
Lauren Lichtenauer | Founder, Christopher's Promise
APRECIATE LIFE REGARDLESS THE CIRCUNSTANCES
GIVE LIFE A SECOND LOOK. STEP OVER THE LINE. CREATE NEW BOUNDARIES