On Sunday, May 17, 2009, Cole Schlesner was on the pitchers mound in Loveland and was struck in the head by a line drive hit. As Cole was air lifted to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, the Greater Loveland community, and in fact people from all around the country, immediately stopped in their tracks to pray for his recovery. Below is a message of thanksgiving from parents, Scott and Wendy Schlesner.
I would like to humbly share a story with you that has been a tremendous help to me and my family.
by Scott Schlesner
November 17 was the six month milestone since our son was injured. We feel blessed that Cole survived, and is doing so well on his road to recovery. His Neurosurgeon recently told us that based on the severity of Cole’s traumatic brain injury, his progress thus far has been “miraculous.”
When we asked what we can expect going forward, Dr. Mangano said he’s cautiously optimistic that Cole can achieve a full and complete recovery--but there are no guarantees. Each traumatic brain injury is unique, and only time will tell how far he recovers. I want to mention that we feel extremely fortunate to have Dr. Mangano as Cole’s physician. In addition to being one of the best Pediatric Neurosurgeons on the planet, he’s an incredible human being. He has always communicated the brutal facts, but also has also provided us with hope…and that hope has kept us strong. Based on Cole’s incredible Faith, determination, and positive attitude, we believe he can achieve a full and complete recovery.Over the past six months, I’m certain our family has experienced every conceivable emotion known to humanity. Many people have asked how we’ve been able to muster the strength to “deal with the situation.” Trust me, it hasn’t been easy. But I would like to humbly share a story with you that has been a tremendous help to me and my family.
Right after Cole was Air-Cared to Children’s Hospital for emergency brain surgery, Father Ted Albert, a minister at our church (St. Barnabus Episcopal) arrived to support us in the waiting room. During the long and tense wait, I asked Father Ted if he thought God had intended for this to happen to Cole. In summary, Father Ted explained that God doesn’t cause bad things to happen…that’s why they’re called accidents. Interestingly, he then explained that even in the midst of terrible tragedy, God will attempt to show us His love and compassion, and he encouraged me to look for it.
He was right. I’ve learned there is tremendous good (God’s love) in the world, but you must condition your mind to look for it. Conversely, if you want to find bad things to justify personal anger and sadness, you can, but it will take you down a line of negative thinking that will most likely pervade your life and make you miserable.
About a month ago I realized I had lost site of the lesson from Father Ted, and I was becoming increasingly angry. I allowed the foolish behavior of a few people towards Cole to fuel my negativity, instead of forgiving them. I prayed to God asking for his help, and He responded. The next morning over breakfast, I forced myself to “look for the good” in my day. Miraculously, I realized that for the first time, Cole was going back to school that day without a helmet, bandanna, or hat on his head. His hair had grown back, and he had started to look like a normal kid again. That was something to celebrate! However, if I hadn’t stopped to actually look for it, I’m not sure I would have seen it!
I’ve realized the way we’ve tried to “view” the world after Cole’s accident has made all the difference in how we’ve dealt with it, and ultimately, how Cole has too. Perception indeed, can become reality. Please don’t get me wrong. Our family (especially me) is far from perfect, and this experience has brought us to our knees on many occasions. We’ve felt sadness, fear, frustration, uncertainty, and even anger since Cole was injured. We’ve also learned that there IS good in the world, but you need to have the right mindset to see it. During the last six months, there have been many kind and compassionate people who've done something special for Cole (or our family) that was completely unexpected... but very much appreciated. These random acts of kindness have made it much easier for us to see the good, and I'd like to highlight a few of the special stories:
1) "Classmates Car Wash"
Sarah Kanitz and Nicole Henderson, both Freshman classmates of Cole, independently organized a car wash for the "Play for 4" not-for-profit philanthropy. Those two, along with other volunteers, spent an entire day at LaRosa's in Loveland washing cars for donations. They raised over $750 for the charity... Thanks, Sarah and Nicole!!! You guys have been loyal friends of Cole, and you'll always have a special place in our hearts!
2) Loveland High School Football
Varsity Football Coach Andrew Marlatt has been an incredible inspiration and motivator to Cole. Even though Cole can't play football, Coach Marlatt has made him feel a special part of the team throughout the season. Coach Marlatt visited Cole in the hospital and brought him a Loveland Varsity football jersey signed by the Seniors. He then invited Cole to speak to the team before the 5th game of the season, which Cole felt honored to do. Cole talked about his recovery process and how his challenge could be translated to football..."Nothing in life that’s worthwhile ever comes easy. To be successful, it takes commitment, a positive attitude, and effort." Coach Marlatt, you're a great role model, demonstrating that strength and compassion can go hand-in-hand. Thank you for being a great human being! Freshman Football Coach Jeremy Ward has also allowed Cole to ride the bus with the team, and be on the sideline during games...we are grateful to you,
3) Miami University Baseball Team VisitOne of the players heard about Cole, and he organized a visit to our home on Nov. 5th with a dozen of the players and Head Coach Dan Simonds. They presented Cole with a signed jersey, an authentic team bat, and offered to have him throw out the 1st pitch at a game next season. While everyone involved deserves a huge thank you, I find it encouraging that a young man demonstrated the leadership, maturity and selflessness to think of Cole, a kid he had no history or relationship with. Coach Simonds obviously does a terrific job of recruiting talented players who also have tremendous character and class. Thanks, Redhawks! We look forward to seeing you in the spring!
4) "Support Cole"
Daniel Canada, Adam Engel and Kyle Miller, all Seniors at Loveland High School, organized a fundraiser for Cole. They raised over $1,200 through donations and the sale of over 150 "Support Cole" t-shirts at LHS. The students and teachers wore these bright orange shirts the first day Cole returned to school after his 2nd reconstructive surgery and three-week recovery. The group picture of everyone wearing these shirts brought tears of joy to our eyes. Daniel estimated that all in all, about half of the Student Body was involved. They used the proceeds to purchase 24 sessions with a personal fitness trainer (Steve Lakes with The Edge Training Institute) to help Cole regain the strength in his right side, which has had a deficit since his injury. To all of the LHS students, faculty and supporters, but especially Daniel, Adam and Kyle: Our family has been humbled by your kindness. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your Leadership in supporting Cole, and for your kindness and compassion. We love you all!
We hope these wonderful stories strengthen your faith in God and humanity, and prove that that there is indeed, plenty of love and goodness in this world! As we roll into the Thanksgiving, we will count the people involved in the stories above - in our blessings!God Bless,
Scott & Wendy Schlesner