I remember the day I first heard the words “Hayden has Autism”… We were in a small doctors office at Rockford Memorial Hospital. It was the third time we were visiting “Dr Dan”. I wasn’t expecting a diagnosis that day and sure didn’t expect something so devastating. 

AUTISM, a label that I didn’t understand but I’d researched enough to fear. As a parent you never expect that your child will have to deal with illness. As a father I never thought I would drop off and pick up my child from a special education class. 

Ironically that same day I was scheduled to shoot a video of me going skydiving. I didn’t talk much on that 2 hour drive to the airfield. My mind was just swirling with thoughts and emotions, voices from every angle. I was hurt, angry, disappointed, frustrated, stressed, guilty and then felt it all over again. I was so distressed that day, one thought I will never forget is “that if my chute doesn’t open today I would be ok with being gone”.

Dramatic thoughts on a dramatic day. I’m glad my chute opened and as I drove away from that skydiving airfield it was the beginning of a new life. I was CERTAIN that I will be a Dad who loves, protects, cares for, and invests in my boy, my son, no matter what label anyone puts on him. No matter how difficult, no matter how expensive, no matter if we have to move across the county…