All posts by cindyrosstraveler

ANNOUNCING THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS!!

…I AM THRILLED TO PRESENT RIVER HOUSE PA’S BOARD-  Thank you for stepping up to the plate to help our non-profit and Veterans

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Mike Gambone

–Michael D. Gambone was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He has degrees from Penn State University and the University of Chicago. He served in the U.S. Army as an officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. In 2006, he also served in Iraq. He currently teaches U.S., Latin American, and military history at Kutztown University…. Mike and Cindy Ross are official badged VA volunteers through the Coatsville VA Hospital and Medical Center. 

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 Tim Minnich…

Tim has had a passion for the outdoors his entire life and continues to broaden his experiences with new adventures. He has been a Boy Scout leader for the past 16 years and has focused his energy the past 10 years on the BSA Venturing program, which is co-ed. Advising young men and women to achieve and overcome challenges through an outdoor high adventure program has been incredibly rewarding. His commitment to service has led him to enthusiastically volunteer to support River House as a board member and participant.

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Todd Gladfelter…

Announcing perhaps the most important Member of the Board, the dear and dedicated husband – Todd Gladfelter- of Cindy Ross, River House PA’s Director. Todd is there to do any and all jobs as well as support Cindy in her ongoing work to help Veterans. His calm, hard-working and loyal personality brings a steadiness to the organization. His skills in all outdoor sports are a huge asset, as well as being an expert in the voluntary simplicity lifestyle that he leads. His amazing chainsaw and blacksmith art as well as his fine woodworking talents make him a mentor for Veterans and everyone. check out his work..www.redmountainarts.net

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 TRAVIS Johnston…

..MILITARY HISTORY…..Travis attended Airborne School followed by RIP (Ranger Indoctrination Program) and was assigned to 1st Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment. In 2007 he deployed to Al Asad, Iraq. He came back and was sent to Ranger School. He graduated Ranger School in March of 2008 and then deployed again in October to Mosul Iraq. During this deployment he became a Fire Team Leader after holding each position within his squad over the last 2 years (Rifleman, Grenadier, and SAW Gunner). In 2009 he was promoted to his platoon’s Senior Machine Gun Team Leader. He then deployed in August of 2009 to Afghanistan where he operated in multiple areas of the country. After his last deployment he made the decision to separate from the Army and spent his remaining time (until October 2010) as operational support for his company by providing training and other forms of support.

AND THIS IS WHY TRAVIS WANTS TO BE A PART of River House PA:

“I think being Veteran myself I can bring a mindset to the organization that allows me to “understand” veterans in a way that others can not. Through my experiences, I am now able to relate to other vets on a level that is extremely hard to reach without being able to have that common ground. My experiences allow me to truly understand the feelings and struggles of Veterans because I have been there myself. This allows me to offer input on how I’ve changed my life for the better and help others take steps to do the same.

Also, I am apart of a community that has a high rate of problems with integration back into ‘normal’ society. I struggled with these issues myself and have watched others struggle with them as well. I belive that there is a legitimate timeline for the process that takes place when men from my community do integrate back into civilian life. This process can be assisted in many ways but not rushed because in the end, it is up to the individual to make those crucial steps toward ‘recovering’ from their tramas.

My access to this community allows me to reach men that otherwise would not be reached and allows me to form a common bond and trust that others may not be able to form.”

WELCOME TRAVIS!! We are thrilled to have you be a part of this organization.

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….Michael Schnur

“As a two tour veteran of Viet Nam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 82nd Airborne Division 1966 thru 1968 , I understand some of what our current generation of combat veterans are working thru in their reentry into the ‘Normal World.’ “

Mike is retired from a successful career as a Businessman, operating his own Drywall Construction Co for over 25 years.

He is currently the Commander of VFW Post 12099 based in Allentown, Pa

He is part of River House PA ….

“Because I believe deeply in what Cindy and River House are doing for VeteransI want to support River House in the future healing of our Veterans thru nature.”

So glad to have you on board Mike, bringing a ton of wisdom and experience to our younger Veterans.

Trauma-free Rafting on the Youghiogheny River

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It was a smart call for River House PA, Director Cindy Ross to arrange for a guided raft trip for her Veterans. The Youghiogheny River was running high and the water level was rated at a Class 4 – serious fun but possibly serious water. Their boat was the only one with a guide that Sunday morning. All the others were forced to steer on their own. There were some deep hydraulics, some high waves, and the potential for trauma on the river that day. Cindy did not want to baby them nor have them miss out on a challenge but she thought the Vets experienced enough trauma in their lives and wanted to insure that fun , fun, fun was the order of the day. As it stands, multiple rafts flipped and the paddlers were visibly traumatized- part of the deal when you raft bigger water. But the River House Pa Vets, as you can see from this photo, were having the time of their lives. Thank you so much, Laurel Highlands River Tours for hosting the Vets and taking such good care of us. And our guide, Garth Boyd, performed a spectacular job. He knew that river so well that all he had to instruct was “Two forward strokes on the right” and he lined the boat up perfectly. Your sick raunchy jokes made the trip even more fun.

GREAT NEWS!!!!!

On this Memorial Day, I would like to make the fantastic announcement that River House PA has received an extremely generous donation of $10,000 from Vanguard Charities- a grant from the Graf-Pulvino Family Fund. We are moved beyond words and look very forward to using it to finance our two future backpacking events- and help the Veterans get on the trail for some healing and fun. Thank you so very very much! There are still a few slots available for the June Laurel Highlands, PA trip as well as the September trip to Michigan and the North Country Trail.

DATE CHANGE for Spirit Wing Concert

ALERT: The River House PA Spirit Wing House Concert scheduled for tomorrow, March 21 is getting postponed until May 9th- We are expecting 8 inches of snow here tomorrow (I have bronchitis) and we want everyone to come who wants to soooo…mark your calendars. If you already purchased tickets and can’t make the new date, will gladly reimburse.     6 PM –Held at Cindy Ross & Todd Gladfelter’s handmade log home in the shadow of Hawk Mountain, New Ringgold, PA. Covered dish to share (with a focus on Native American/Early American foods),  music, campfire, Native American dancing- Tickets $10.00 Send check to River House PA, 85 Red Mountain Lane, New Ringgold, PA 17960

Backpacking on the Laurel Highlands Trail for River House PA Veterans

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On June 7-12 River House PA will stage a 70 mile backpacking trip on the Laurel Highlands Trail in Western PA.  After we complete our backpacking trip, we will enjoy a 10 Canopy Zip and a whitewater raft trip to celebrate. SPACES VERY LIMITED- contact Cindy

The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to the Laurel Ridge State Park meeting the 1,000-foot Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown. It traverses state parks, forests, game lands, preserves and other public and private lands.

On the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, you’ll pass eight overnight areas approximately every 8 to 10 miles. All are equipped with fresh water, Adirondack-style shelters, tent pads and comfort stations.

RISING UP- Playing in the Snow with Wounded Warrior Amputees

 

 

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Wounded Warrior Dennis Leonard needed help tying up his shortened pant legs with cording. He didn’t want any cold snow getting up where his legs were blown off in Iraq where he served in the Army. He was planning a wild time on the snow tube at Seven Springs Resort and nothing was going to get in the way of his fun.

Although Dennis has both of his lower legs missing from an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion, he is into living large and going fast which at first thought, sounds unusual for a man in a wheelchair, but then Dennis is an unusual Wounded Warrior.

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He gets help from the Ski Patrol team here at Seven Springs Resort and Ski Round Top in the Cumberland Valley outside Harrisburg. They are here with the Wounded Warrior Patrol, a non-profit organization based in Carlisle, whose mission is to gift Wounded Warriors and their families an all-expense paid ski vacation, to help aid in the healing. This 4 day event is co-sponsored with Seven Springs Resort in the Laurel Highlands of western PA. Eleven families have come to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, along with bowling, miniature golf, spa treatments for the Warrior’s wives, kids’ crafts as well as babysitting, and fantastic meals- a dream come true for these families. Nine of the eleven are from Pennnsylvania.

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I was planning on being in my own tube, since only single tubes were available, but also wanted to slide right with Dennis. He said he’d hold onto my handle so I could hang onto my camera and take pics.

“I’m depending on you, Dennis. I’m not used to giving up control.”

“I have you covered,” he replied.

 

When we were given instructions on how to slow down at the end, so we didn’t slam into the fence,

Dennis said, “You’re going to have to cover that part,” since he had no feet.

“I got this,” I replied back. We were a team.

He told me when he was sliding here last year on his own tube, a scout yelled to him to drag his feet as he was zooming very fast, “Right!” he yelled!

The Ski Patrol got Dennis comfy in the snow tube and they zipped him up to the top of the hill behind a snowmobile. Once in the tubes, we sped down the hill together, screaming when he became airborne. Dennis loved sliding the most when he was backwards and couldn’t see the bumps coming as we flew into the air. “That split second of weightlessness. I could feel my body rising up.”

Rising up. Isn’t that what an amputee would wish for and dream about the most, rising up? As so he makes it happen.

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Last year, Dennis tells me, the slope wasn’t fast enough for him. The jumps weren’t high enough. “Any time I can go FAST, I’m all over it. He raises hell on his 4-wheeler at home and hoists his body onto a tube on a lake and becomes airborne behind a motorboat. “First thing I want to do is find out how fast it can go.”  He liked living on the edge. “It’s all about speed and having a good time,” he said.

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The next day they loaded Dennis onto a rescue toboggan, bundled him up in a “blankie” tucked around him and zoomed him up to the top of the ski slope. This time, he would careen down the mountain sitting upright on the toboggan. A skier from the Patrol team led him in front with two long rigid poles while another member of the patrol, had the rear on a webbing tether, so Dennis didn’t run his lead skier over.

Everyone on the slope not associated with the program was amazed and stared and could almost not believe their eyes, as Dennis smoked past.

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The scene of Dennis flying down the hills was only one of many inspiring images here at Seven Springs this week. There were other contraptions made to take physically challenged folks racing down the snow slopes and one was a Ski Bike.

 

Wounded Warrior Jeff Hemminger assembled his Adaptive Ski Bike together that first night we met at Seven Springs. He moved around with his intact and amputated leg, while his son, Tyler helped him.  This soldier lost his leg in a Humvee accident from an IED explosion in Iraq. Jeff’s Ski Bike takes him to new speeds that he can’t get in his wheelchair or on his prosthesis.  There are skis where there tires would be on a normal bike. He rides the Ski Bike by standing up on the bike pegs keeping his legs stationary. The fork and the back shock is the same as mountain bike. The Ski Bike weighs about 30 pounds and costs around $3,500.

IMG_7452 2  Ski Biking is a fairly new sport in America, compared to Europe where it is quite popular.  Jeff travels to Telluride and Durango along with other places to participate in Ski Bike fests.

 

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Jeff can hit 50-60 MPH on his Ski Bike. An ap on his phone in his pocket records his speed. He was reprimanded by the Ski Patrol to slow down. They did not issue a speeding ticket but they thought about it. When he wrecked pretty badly one time, flying over the snow bank, his Ski Patrol friends yelled to him to see if he was okay and he replied as he laughed his head off, “Yep, I’m still in two pieces!”

But the most amazing contraption for me was the Sit Ski. The Wounded Warrior sits in the chair and can either assist turning with two short skis that are strapped to their arms, or have outriggers on like trainings wheels which help balance and prevent them from falling over. A skier from the Three Rivers Adaptive Sports program out of Pittsburgh skis behind and holds two webbed straps as a tether. He can control the Sit Ski, make it turn, slow it down, as long as the sitter does not do anything stupid. They asked me if I wanted to try it. How else could I write realistically about it if it was all speculation? I wasn’t sure I could prevent myself from doing anything stupid however.

This was a week of trust. The Wounded Warriors trusting as they stuck their necks out, got out of their comfort zone and safe homes. Just coming to this event, for starters, was a stretch for them with strange people, many people, unfamiliar surroundings, new challenges. They are being asked to engage in scary new sports that could threaten and intimidate anyone who is unfamiliar with the ski world, let alone Wounded Warriors with trust issues and most suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was a lot for them to deal with and they had to put their trust in the Wounded Warrior Patrol. I may as well practice it myself.

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(photo of Jim Mennucci)

They strapped my body in the Sit Ski using multiple straps. I could barely move. Lean a bit, that was it. They pushed me over to the chair lift and multiple men picked me completely up in the Sit Ski. “Ready?” LIFT!” I became airborne, they tilted me back and hoisted me onto the moving chair. They pulled the bar down. I had to trust them.

Up top, I was given instructions. I was pretending to be a Wounded Warrior who could not use their arms or legs but could still move their torso. So I was to lean hard left and right, slight left and right when I was told to do so. I had to find my balance point. I started off wigging and wagging until I FELT it and could manage it. My instructor, Clark Manny has been safely teaching and escorting physically challenged people down ski slopes for over 20 years. I felt safe although vulnerable. I also felt physically challenged!

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The steep slope rushing towards looked like a disaster ready to happen- the sharp turns, the other skiers, the light poles etc. all zoomed into view. I had not skied since I was 18 years old in high school. I was not familiar with a ski run. But we made it and it was fascinating to see how we could work together.

Next time, no training wheels and I had skis strapped to my forearms. I had to assist. I had to hold them out and point them left and right. Keep contact with the snow. Right off, I started wigging and wagging again, feeling like a kid trying to balance a bicycle for the first time. Clark was working hard. Twice he saved me. “That will cost you a beer,” he announced.

“Gladly,” I said.

He “saved” me again. Another beer. And two times he could not save me and I fell completely over on the slope, taking multiple men to pick me up and set me straight. I was beginning to see the huge commitment and sacrifice these adaptive skiers make in order to get immobile folks mobile again while speeding down the slope and having a blast.

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It was very challenging for even someone like me to Sit Ski, let alone a real physically or mentally challenged person. Adaptive Sports takes all ages, all challenges down ski slopes- MS victims, ASL, cerebral palsy, paraplegic. Every person is different and it runs the gamut of who can move which body part or who can understand and who can communicate on all varying levels. Even a person whose body permanently leans to one side, they can compensate and get that person skiing. It is tremendously rewarding to see the work that they do and the joy that they bring to otherwise immobile people. And above all, how these Wounded Warriors are learning to heal and live again.

 

Dennis Leonard told me after the week was drawing to a close, that he was never into whining about his missing legs. “Stuff happens in your life and you deal with it.” Some Veterans don’t deal so well, but what saved Dennis is his attitude.

“I accepted my missing legs from the very beginning. I can look at something and think, ‘This is going to be a problem,’ and then figure out how to solve it.”

“If you listen to the doctors, you’ll have a miserable life and never have any fun.”

When someone questions if an activity is going to be safe for him he looks at them crooked and replies, “What, am I going to do, hurt myself? I’ll slow down when you put me in the grave.” Good advice for us all.

A Valentine’s Night to Remember

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It felt like a celebration. The hall was lit up with white and red fairy lights. Shiny, heart-shaped balloons were tied to the Mason jars of flowers. Red tinsel and glittery hearts created table centerpieces. Familiar fond tunes wafted through the loud speakers, setting the mood. And when the Veterans walked through the door of this Topton American Legion turned Valentine’s Day fairyland, they were greeted with a warm hug, a “Thank you for coming,” and a red carnation was pinned to their shirt. River House PA wanted everyone who was attending the Veteran’s Benefit to know who our heroes are. And there were thirty of them there that night. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf and the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars, from 70’s to their early 20’s, men and women were represented.

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Besides celebrating our love for one another, our Veterans, and River House PA, the organization staged a Silent Auction of amazing gifts from even more amazing donors and artists, to help fund and fuel the non-profits’ outdoor programs. Forty prizes in all were arranged on tables. Some had the actual artwork, others such as gift certificates had posters illustrating the prize, looking a little like middle school science fair posters but getting the point across none the less!

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The Legion’s Auxiliary crafted a delicious spaghetti dinner with meatballs, sausage, salad, and garlic bread, with monstrous trays of fresh fruit, veggies and dip, assorted cheese and crackers to appease hunger before the main meal. Cakes, brownies, homemade cookies and coffee, as well as a fine assortment of Valentine’s Day candy from the Port Clinton Peanut Shop graced the dessert table.

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While the enthusiastic bidding went on, Veterans were meeting other Veterans, introducing each other asking when they served, while civilians were doing the same. When Danny Stein from the 175th Airborne Ranger Battalion met Mike Schnur from the Vietnam’s Ranger Battalion, they locked eyes and shook hands and said, “It’s a great honor.” Danny said to me, “That Vet is a fuckin’ hero. I mean it.” It was all good. We even had female Ilene Henderson attend, a combat Veteran from both Iraq and Afghanistan, who is currently hiking the entire 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail with her mother. They were our proud guests at the Benefit and drove all the way from Virginia to be here with her comrades and friends of River House.

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Speaking of driving far, attendees to the event came in from Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey and even Ohio, which is saying a lot as there was snow predicted, white out conditions, high winds and very low temps. It did not stop them. They came and supported this great cause and these wonderful people- our Veterans. Steve & Becky Adamson spent the weekend at Cindy & Todd’s house, the parents of fallen Airborne Ranger and AT 2,000 Miler, Zach “Shady” Adamson, whom a Utube video was made of a Memorial Hike in VA last year. (A Journey of Remembrance – YouTube:13www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOwRs3YNms0). Becky & Steve met Danny Stein, River House’s Poster Boy, who served with their son in both Iraq and Afghanistan and had never met before this. The meeting was very sweet and touching. One hundred and forty people braved the elements to attend and bids were high, bringing in over $3,000 for the Auction Items and making about $1500 from ticket sales. A tremendous, unexpected generous income on such an iffy winter night.

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The only down side was only a handful got to dance (the kids!) for an hour and it was horrendous driving going home, with white out blizzard conditions across the Lehigh Valley. A drunk from the bar rammed Todd’s truck in the Legion parking lot but the hit and run driver is on video and the state trooper can find out who it is. All in all, it was a tremendous night and we were all deeply touched by everyones’ generosity and support.

Next event up is the monthly Wednesday hike for Veterans, followed by a pot luck and Brainstorming session for Veterans & Friends of River House alike- March 18th. Only a few days after that, River House PA is staging a Spring Equinox Celebration Benefit- a House Concert with Native American Band, Spirit Wind…March 21st. Seating is VERY limited but tickets are on sale now. Take you all and please send some Veterans our way who could use a little time in the lap of nature.

The Continued Adventures of Danny, the Airborne Ranger

It had been a few weeks since I called up my local Airborne Ranger Veteran friend, Danny Stein. It was time to check in.
“What have you been up to?”
“Nothing.”
“What did you do yesterday?”
“Sat and stared at the walls.”
“OK. I’m coming to town. I’m picking you up. How about a walk?”

Danny asked if I could take him to the trail along the Tulpehocken Creek. There is a bridge there that he remembers from his childhood. His mother took him there when he was about eight years old and he would really like to see if he could find it again. I knew just the covered bridge. Ride my bike there all the time in nice weather.
I picked him up and bought him to the parking lot. We could not see the bridge but I knew it was around the corner. Danny sees a red roof off in the distance and said disappointed, “It must be somewhere else.”
But when we went around the corner, there loomed the long-span of the Red Bridge. 
“That’s’ it!” he said excitedly.
We walked through the dark recesses of the bridge, seeing the dancing light of the water coming through the cracks. Once we surfaced, we went down on the bike trail and Danny positioned himself exactly where he stood thirteen years ago, before he went to war, before he jumped out of the plane and his chute got tangled and he hurt himself, before he got in a motorcycle accident and hurt his head putting him in the hospital for 3 (or 300) years. Back when life was simple.  He asked me to take his photo in the same spot he stood as an 8-year-old.

We walked in the snow. The sky a brilliant cobalt blue, the strikingly white limbs of the sycamores in sharp contrast. I made him stop and look at them up in the sky. We said they looked like capillaries and the main artery was the trunk; or a river and stream tributaries seen from above the planet. I don’t think he ever looked at trees like that before. I know he didn’t know what a sycamore was. He couldn’t stop taking photos.

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I used to do this with my children. Point out things in nature. Listen to bird songs. See shadows. Learn to use their senses. These kinds of experiences can’t happen sitting indoors with the blinds pulled tight, staring at the walls or even the large screen monitor. There is life out here.

After our walk, I needed to stop in and see my Aunt Dot, an 82-year old power house whom just celebrated a birthday. She was babysitting my cousin’s very lively triplets- three, 8- year old identical boys. I hoped it would be okay. My aunt recently jumped out of an airplane in a tandem jump. Her and Danny have something in common.

When I asked Danny if he wanted to spend the day with me (and overnight at our home), I listed all the things we would be doing and asked him if he wanted to. He definitely  did, but he only had so many anxiety pills.

Purposely creating potentially anxiety-causing activities? Really? This was a good thing? Danny assured me that it was and he wanted to do it all. He unscrewed  his pill bottle and downed one without water.

The boys engaged Danny as soon as we walked in the door. They are  affectionate. They love to hug and show you things, get you to play games, ask you questions.The triplets loved Danny and vice versa. They weren’t too much for him and my wonderful silly aunt teased the hell out of him and loosened him up considerably.

“Was that okay?” I asked after we left.
“They were great,” he admitted, “No stress at all.”

Next stop was my farmer friend, DJ’s home. We were having dinner with his family (Todd would join us after work), snow mobiling by the full moon was next on the activity agenda, followed by a hot tub soak.
But shortly after we arrived at the huge Robesonia dairy farm , Danny informed me that he had never seen cows milked before.

Into the milking parlor DJ led us. But first we had to get through the cow traffic jam. The 1500-1800 Holsteins were crammed together in a haphazard line, wanting their turn to get milked. We had to wade through  their wide high bodies, shooing them aside and squeeze our way through the slimy slippery concrete-covered manure. I think to myself , “will this cause Danny anxiety?”

Danny sloshed into the parlor and is amazed to learn that a suction contraption pulls the milk out of their teats and sends it along a hose to the cooler. And, that it pops off automatically when the milk has been drained. DJ squirts some foamy bright green soap all over Danny when he asks what the colorful pools are beneath the cow’s feet.  Uh oh, will this create anxiety for Danny? DJ instructs Danny to stick his finger into the udder sucker and it grabs and squeezes his index finger. I watch him like a mother hen.

After dinner, we get dressed up and go into the moonlit snow to climb aboard the snowmobiles. First Danny has to shove an extremely tight motocross helmet over his face- DJ’s daughter’s pink helmet at that. Anxiety?

DJ announces that there are two snow mobiles a new one and an old one that has no brakes.
“No brakes?” I yell. I just recently wrote a story on a bike shop owner who caters to handicapped cyclists- one is paralyzed from his nipples down resulting from a snowmobile accident.

“I’ll go on the snow mobile without the brakes, Cindy” Danny offers. “You know I like to live on the edge.”  I jump on the machine behind Loretta, DJ’s wife, and Danny hops on the old machine behind DJ. The moon is brilliant, filling the hillsides around the farm with white light, as bright as daylight. We fly over the icy covered snow, bounce over bumps. I circle Loretta’s waist and hold on and I look ahead and see Danny with his arms high in the air, above his head,  as though he is going down a hill on a roller coaster. No anxiety there.

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Never seen a milk cow.  Never been on a snowmobile. Had been in a hot tub but that was all pre-war, pre-accident. The hot tub was crowded. Five person’s legs intertwined amongst the others. We were definitely in each other’s space and we were all naked.  I watched Danny. He was having a great time.

After our action-packed day, Danny says good-bye to the Duncan’s and offers his services to help out on the farm, once he gets his wheels again. I said, “Bad move. There’s always tons of work to do on a farm. Be careful Danny. He’ll take you up on that.”

But seeing Danny extend himself like this gives me great hope. It is the alternative to sitting in his room staring at the walls. Here he is engaging in life, meeting new people, placing himself in strange and potentially anxiety-creating situations, and he wants to. He sees the value of it and it makes him happy, it makes him feel alive.

Danny helped me the next day prepare for my non-profit River House PA’s Veteran’s Benefit on Valentine’s Day. He helped untangle strands and strands of white lights that we’ll use to decorate the American Legion hall- measured them and wound them efficiently. He found a cracked mug and asked for Crazy Glue to fix it. He noticed a wobbly stool and asked for a screw driver to tighten it up. Another visit he sharpened our knives down in Todd’s shop. Everyone needs to feel useful and necessary. The lovely thing is I don’t pick up Danny and bring him into my busy active life to necessarily  help him. He is our friend. He is my whole family’s friend. My son loves him, thinks he’s a crack up, and loves his dry humor. My husband finds him entertaining. I find he’s a constant source of amazement and presents countless opportunities to show him the world. I forget that he is young- only 25, because he says he feels like he is an old man, in body and in spirit. And he has spent years in a hospital and years before that in a war. Before those two major events, he was pretty much a boy.

So I find it is a great privilege to dream up “potential  anxiety-producing experiences” in Danny’s life. I have learned from my Veteran friends that although it can be scary and their feelings unpredictable, the alternative is numbness, staring at walls. Maybe someday in the near future, Danny will be able to keep that anxiety pill bottle closed, and embrace all life has to offer with confidence and joy. That’s what we’re working  towards, one cow, one snowmobile, one hot tub, one experience at a time.

Amish-made Cross Stitched Quilt- Handmade & hand quilted for Silent Auction

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An 86″ X 107 ” flower quilt handmade by the Amish- cross stitched and quilted all by hand …gifted for the Valentine’ Day Veteran’s Benefit Silent Auction by my marvelous children’s midwife- Patti Lee… you could take this home to grace your bed BUT you must first get your ticket! No at-the-door sales- only pre-purchased ticket. Go to the Donations tab for ordering tickets online with Pay Pal (write what the $ is for in Comments)