Every year, Smithsonian magazine designates “the 20 best small towns in America.” Problem is, they’ve overlooked one this year: Beacon Falls, Conn. We know this for a fact, because when our 5-year-old son Jack faced a life threatening challenge, our small town was there to help us meet it and overcome it.
Jack was hospitalized on Wednesday morning, May 30 with a rash on his knees, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and acute belly pain. Soon after he was admitted, his fever rose to a dangerous 107.9. After being given intravenous fluids, he developed leaky capillaries and his lungs filled up. He was incubated and later placed on an oscillator ventilator. His immune system weakened and his previously diagnosed Crohn’s disease flared. All the while, the amazing doctors and nurses in the Yale Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) worked tirelessly to save our little boy. After a multitude of tests conducted by many teams of Yale’s best doctors, all with negative results, they are still at a loss as to what caused Jack’s rapid descent into critical illness. The truth is, we may never know what caused it, but at least he’s home now. He’s doing very well, but has a long road ahead of him. Jack will get lengthy IV infusions of a drug called Remicade every eight weeks indefinitely. He is also part of a genetic sequencing project at Yale to determine if Jack has any genetic mutations which may have caused this near fatal episode.
We stayed in the PICU with Jack the whole time. Yet we were never alone. Besides our wonderful family, we had the support of our entire town. Porch lights turned on in Beacon Falls until Jack came home, and this idea spread across the country via Facebook and word of mouth. Our fantastic friends, Bobby Bulinski and Joe Kalentek, organized a boot drive fundraiser. We loved seeing pictures of those kids holding up signs along Main Street. Fire Chief Mike Pratt had “Prayers for Jack” bracelets made and created similar ribbons for the firemen to wear during the parade. The fire department also treated our other two sons, Kyle and Nick, to unlimited carnival rides. Jack’s preschool, United Day, had all of his classmates create cards which really brightened up his hospital room. They also supported us generously during our time of need and even included a special video as part of the graduation ceremony which Jack could not attend. At the same time, Laurel Ledge Elementary School kept a special eye out for Kyle and Nick. Our parish, St. Michael’s, prayed continuously for Jack’s speedy recovery. Other friends cut our lawn, chlorinated our pool, dropped off food, and took care of our other children. To top it all off, a website was created, which dedicated prayers to Jack and kept our spirits up. We want everyone to know that we read every prayer, Facebook message, text, voicemails, and e-mail. Through our tears, we felt your love and concern.
Upon arriving home, the support for Jack continued. He was given a hero’s welcome and threw out the first pitch at his brother’s baseball game. Citizen’s News was there to capture the moment and share Jack’s story. Every day since he has come home, an overwhelming number of townspeople have inquired about Jack’s health and daily progress. We are so humbled that our son is a top concern for so many people.
We truly believe that the support and prayers of our family and friends enabled us to make it through this crisis. In our time of need, Beacon Falls proved strong and true. One of Jack’s doctors stated that his recovery was a miracle, and indeed it was. But we also know that the support of an entire community was the foundation for our hope and strength. We are so proud of our family, friends, and our whole town.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts, but it doesn’t seem like enough. Our plan then? To pay it forward and spread the message of friendship and generosity. Please know that your generous donations have been put to good use and will continue to be. Our friends and family who live outside of Beacon Falls are in awe of how quickly our town came together to support our little boy. We always knew we lived in a great place, but now we know that Beacon Falls is undoubtedly the best little town in the world.
We thank you, and so does Jack.
Jennifer and Jordan Bshara