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The Clark Family Thanks the Community For Its Support During Son’s Ordeal

By Nicole and Chris Clark

To our friends and family,

As I sit here on Sept. 6, it’s difficult to remember how raw those emotions were while we were in the hospital.  I thought I’d never forget them, but I think in some miraculous way they have faded.  I am so thankful that Nate has very few memories of the whole experience.  We had his first follow up appoint with his neurologist at CCMC this morning.  It was a great appointment.  He is decreasing some of his medications which will hopefully make some of the side effects subside.  His hope is that eventually he will not have to take any anti-seizure medications.  I can’t even imagine a day where he doesn’t have to take medicine.  It sounds like a dream. 

Chris and I would like to take this opportunity to mention all of our “angels” by name.  We literally couldn’t have gotten through this nightmare without your support.  As I stood in front of so many of you at the LaTrattoria benefit event, I wanted to thank you all by name, and instead I choked.  Somehow, the words couldn’t come out, so here’s what I wanted to say: (I apologize in advance for the lengthiness or if I fail to mention someone)

The Lincoln, Richardson, and Coates families – you did the most important job of all.  You kept our little Ian safe, fed, dressed, occupied, and made his life be as normal as was possible while Chris and I stayed in the hospital with Nate.  We never had to worry about him.  You cared for him as if he were your own child and arranged for his care without us even having to ask.  Thank you for being there when he needed love & security.

Sarah Todd – I don’t even know what to say to you.  Thank you would never be enough for what you did for us.  While working a full time job, you stayed overnight in the hospital with us whenever you felt like we needed it.  There were nights when you sat in the chair in Nate’s hospital room probably without even closing your eyes once so that we were able to get some much needed sleep.  You helped us think clearly by researching medical stuff for us.  You stayed at our house when we went to Boston to take care of everything that we had to leave behind.  You are an AMAZING friend and I feel so lucky to have met you (thank you Krista for that). 

Coach Weller – you were Nate’s first and I think most frequent visitor.  Even when we were in the PICU and no children were allowed, you still visited.  You brought treats and soccer balls and soccer jerseys and he absolutely lit up every single time he saw you.  I hope you know how much that boy loves you.  There is a special bond between the two of you, and I am so grateful that he has such a positive role model in his life. 

The “iPad families” (Brown, Weller, Benedetti, Andreson, Franks, Tanner, Miner, Biskupiak, Cavanaugh, Connolly and Mackin) – what an incredible gift you presented to us.  I know you already know this, but when Kim Weller brought that iPad to us, Nate said that it wasn’t fair.  He said that he didn’t deserve it, and he didn’t want to accept it.  Once we had the iPad, things were so much easier for him and for us.  I was able to make the Caring Bridge updates much easier, and Nate was able to “see” his friends that he so longed for.  Also, it occupied him on the really long days between visitors, or when he was lonely.  It took his mind off of all of the bad things that he was experiencing.  Thank you.

Gretchen Sonju – the magic that you somehow worked in order to provide us with a safe, convenient and beautiful place to call home while we were in Boston is truly remarkable.  We thought we had nowhere to go when we found out that the family housing was full, and without hesitation you arranged for us to have this place.  I don’t even known what else we would’ve done.  Thank you to you and to your friend Chris. 

Missy Vermillion – you are and will always be my best friend.  Your strength gave me strength, even from a distance.  I know that you wanted to come to CT and would’ve made the trip without hesitation.  That’s why you’re my best friend!  And the fact that you used your own points to arrange for a hotel room for us in Boston is further proof.  I love you (and of course Jay and the kids too!)

My mom – thank you for not letting me how scared you really were, and for telling me that you were able to sleep and eat and breathe okay (even though I know that you were lying).  You told me not to worry about you, and I really appreciate that because I can only imagine how hard it was to worry from a distance.  I love you and I promise that we will come and visit as soon as Nate is up for it. 

The Clark family – thank you to Tim, Theresa, Meg and Patty for visiting us and for bringing Gram & Grampa too!  I know it was very hard for them to see their grandson suffering, but it was important for Nate and for them to see each other.  Also, thank you for your help with Ian (he LOVED being with you guys) and with all the things around our house.  We love you all.

To the “Camping Group” (Krista, Kathy, Beth, Nancy and their families) – you stocked our empty pantry and refrigerator before we came home, you welcomed us home with signs, balloons, and hugs, and you put together an incredible welcome home party.  Your friendship is invaluable, and we are so lucky to have you all in our lives.  We love you all so much. 

My sister Rose – twice you made the drive from NJ to CT without telling me, because you knew I needed you but would’ve never asked for you to come.  You stayed with us many nights in the hospital, you kept us lifted up with prayer, and brought Holy Water for Nate’s healing.  You and Nick and Sue helped keep Dad a part of this by calling upon him in spirit, and I know his presence was there in that hospital room.  Thank you for everything, I love you.

Our “long distance” friends and family in PA, NJ, DC, & CA – you kept saying that you felt helpless, but the messages that continued to pour in to us were what kept us going on those days that seemed to go on forever.  You sent cards, balloons, stuffed animals, dinners, gift cards.  You made plans to come to CT to help out, but I asked you not to.  That’s how you helped, and it was incredible!  I know you wish you could’ve actually been there to help us, but we knew we were constantly in your thoughts & prayers. 

“Downtown” Ryan Brown – I have no idea why we started calling you that, but it always made Nate smile.  You brought us several Dunkin Donuts breakfasts (which always included an oreo donut for Nate), you bought us a delicious dinner, you let us borrow your laptop, and you checked on us all the time.  That was incredible.   

My coworkers and friends at Norcom Mortgage – you visited us, sent Edible Arrangements, cards, messages, and you assured me that the mortgages would get done without me.  I never worried about work thanks to all of you.  I hope that someday my situation will allow me to return to work there, because I really enjoyed working with all of you.

Chris’ coworkers at Litchfield Center School – you sent us gift cards, messages, and you worked together to set up Chris’ classroom.  I can’t even begin to tell you what a relief that was to him.  He was so worried about getting such a late start to preparing for the upcoming school year.  That was the best thing anyone could’ve done for him, nice work!!

Dr. Ken Perks – over the years, you have been so much more than our pediatrician, you have been a coach, mentor, and most of all a friend.  I don’t think there was anyone that called us as much as you did while we were in the hospital, and for that we are grateful.  It was so reassuring to talk to you and get your opinion and perspective.  You helped us through this journey both medically and personally.  We are so thankful to have you (and to Susan for dealing with all that precious time you spent talking to us).  I also know that you played a crucial role in helping organize the benefit events, thank you for that also. 

Speaking of the benefit events, there were so many people involved in organizing the two incredible events that took place on Saturday, Aug. 25.  I hope mention everyone, please forgive me if I forget anyone, and it goes without saying that we also thank the spouses and families who made it possible for these guys to put so much time and effort into planning this event because I know it was no small feat.   

Mark (the Mayor) Puglielli – your endless connections made so many things possible at CCMC, Boston Children’s Hospital, and for these benefit events.  Thank you for your visits both at CCMC and in Boston.  You always seem to come through with the perfect thing at the perfect time.  You and your family are so special to us. 

Mark Lange – thank you for opening up “the biggest garage in town” for these events.  You are an amazing coach and such a caring person.  I am so thankful for your generosity, and I think you are doing such a great service to the community through Valley Sports Center.  Canton is lucky to have you!

Paul Amrose, Ray Conforti, Brian Jaeggi, Tom McGoldrick, Shaun and Diana Mackin, Sarah Flaherty, CYSA Board Members, Canton Little League (and probably even more people that we don’t know about) – you all devoted precious family time to plan these events, and/or you were there to set up, sell tickets, clean up, etc.  I heard there were many meetings, and I sincerely thank you for the role you all played.  You and your families are so special to the Clark family. 

Andy Robbin and Patrick Allen of “The Substitutes” – thank you for providing great music for this event!  It was so great to see the kids dancing!  Thanks for giving up a Saturday night with your families in order to be there. 

Flatbread Pizza – thanks for providing a ton of delicious pizza for the VSC event!

The Clement, Aleksa, the Ianellos and Hanecak families — You were always there to listen to our thoughts and share your advice.  You came to Hartford and Boston to lift Nate's spirits by playing a game or bringing a special gift.  You were there for us as parents, too!  Thank you for being such good friends.

Phew, that’s a lot of thanking!  It just confirms something that we already knew.  We are extremely fortunate to have such incredible people in our lives.  I speak for the entire Clark family when I say that we appreciate every single thing that you all did for us, and we will pay it forward.  Our lives have forever changed, in a good way.  We now realize what’s truly important in life, and we will never take it for granted again.  Love to you all!!

Nicole, Chris, Nate and Ian Clark

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