I’m supposed to be writing a speech

I’m supposed to be writing a speech.  I was recently asked by a commitee in the NICU where Liam was a patient to give a speech and answer some questions in order to help educate new NICU staff so they are able to appreciate the contribution that they make to families. Also to give the father’s perspective which is sometimes a little lost in a hospital named Women & Infants, but in a long term NICU stay the fathers are also effected and need support. In two days I’ll meet with a bunch of staff to give them the parents side of time spent in the hospital.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever mentioned that in real life I’m a food & nutrition manager in said hospital. It’s a situation that can at times be rewarding in that it keeps me close enough to help families effected by complex medical needs yet can also be suffocating in that I can never really escape the role of NICU dad. Running the cafeteria kept me fairly anonymous in the hospital — being the father to Liam did not.

But all of that is another post for another day.  I don’t have time to get into that right now.

I’m supposed to be writing a speech.

So I guess I don’t have time to blog about our trip on Friday to Dream Night at Roger Williams Park Zoo. A wonderful program at zoos around the world, Dream Night brings children with special needs, their families and their caregivers together for a private night at the zoo that is more intimate and interactive than any zoo experience I’ve ever seen.

With the height of Liam’s wheelchair and his compromised vision, the zoo on a normal day can be a difficult place to engage Liam. He’s not really going to notice the zebra or elephant 30 yards off in the distance. But at Dream Night, which is held at a time when the zoo is normally closing and with a limited attendance, Liam can be set up to see feedings of those big animals that are usually difficult to get close to. All of the photos in this post were taken with my cell phone just to give you an idea of how close we were allowed to get to some of these animals.
Last year we attended Dream Night but if I recall Liam slept through most of it and we saw little if any recognition when he was awake that he had any grasp of what was going on. This year though Liam stayed awake and alert and got only slightly fussy when his father kept inadvertantly turning the stroller and lifting its visor to nearly blind him with the light of the setting sun.


On Dream Night Liam was able to roll right up to zookeepers on hand with hedgehogs, owls, snakes and other creatures out of their cages and calm enough to be touched.

If I had time to blog tonight I would tell you about the south american porcupine that came really close to crawling right onto Liam’s lap before its keeper came in to stop her.

But I don’t have time tonight because I’m supposed to be writing a speech.


So since I’m writing a speech tonight I also don’t have time to tell you how amazingly well our Liam the Lion Fund Kickoff Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction (just kind of rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?) went yesterday. The turnout was incredible and everyone who attended showed us so much generousity and support that Liam will be riding safely around town in his wheelchair accesible van in no time.

I wish I had more time for blogging amongst all the speech writing that’s going on around here because I would use this space to thank the people who gave so much of their time and effort to make it such a success like my mom and dad and Karin’s mom and dad who were there to help set-up the event room and auction. My Aunt Donna, Aunt Carol, Brian, My Nan, and sister’s friend (and newest member of Team Liam) Beth for all of their help being waiters, waitresses, cooks, and dishwashers during dinner.  To all of the people who donated items to be auctioned off and to each and every person who attended an auction on a beautiful sunday afternoon solely to help my family.

And if I dont have time to blog about thanking them then I certainly don’t have enough time to blog about Liam’s Auntie Sandra (my little sis), without whom this event never would have happened. While Karin and I have thought about and talked about having a kickoff event for months and months we’ve usually got our hands pretty full around here. It was Auntie Sandra who came through with the to-do lists and the spreadsheets. She kept us on track with twice weekly meetings and did most of the legwork procuring items for auctioning and producing the ticketing paperwork. We can’t thank you enough Sandra. Are you any good at writing speeches?


So I’ll sign-off here. I’m sorry that there’s no real blog post tonight. There’s only so many hours in the day and as I’ve said….

I’m supposed to be writing a speech right now.



  1. Hey bud, that’s great, wish I could be more involved at the hospital, between the amount of time that you and I have both spent there with our families, we could definitely give a fathers perspective.

    We had a great time at the Spaghetti dinner the other day, the food was great, and the people we met were wonderful.

    On another note, what is your phone number or personal email? you can email them to me at work. michael.hebert@pharma.com

    I have many questions about brewing, I bought my first ingredient kit yesterday, and can’t wait to get going.


  2. Hey, a parent from my home state!!
    I so admire the parenting that you do. Your son is gorgeous!!!
    Speech writing…something I know a little bit about…
    As difficult as it might be, I always try to add a bit of humor. Laughing puts the audience at ease, and the feedback can be encouraging, giving you the confidence to go on. I, too, have a son who is legally blind, but I have many stories about his childhood that are hilarious without diminishing the seriousness of his condition. For instance, in preschool they had an exterminator come to his school and told them about termites. He had nightmares for weeks and I couldn’t figure out why. I told him termites were teeny tiny and wouldn’t hurt him. “TINY”, he cried, “They are HUGE!” That’s because the only termite he had ever seen was the Big Blue Bug on route 95!!!
    Good luck with the speech!

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