Why We're Grateful

Photo: Stephen Travarca

On the topic of gratitude, it’s hard not to get personal. This isn’t some abstract concept, after all. For most of us, it’s something we feel profoundly, at the very core of our being. So here’s my story:

Man woman boy wearing glasses and hats outside on clear day colorful trees in background

Oscar; my husband, Jon; and me 

A week after our son was born, I knew something wasn’t right. Call it a mother’s intuition. Turns out he had supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) — a very fast heartbeat. We put our faith and trust in Cleveland Clinic, and we’ve never looked back. 

The heartbeat was eventually brought under control, but our journey was just beginning. Starting when he was 6 months old, our son had multiple surgeries, from his eyes to his feet, with multiple specialists. 

There also were developmental challenges, including diagnoses of apraxia, autism and ADHD. Years of PT, OT and speech therapy followed. I’ll never forget the words of his speech therapist, Alissa, when we asked if our son would ever speak: “I don’t know,” she said, “but we’re going to keep trying.” 

Oscar was 2 years old then. He’s 14 now — and he won’t stop talking. The journey continues, with a village of wonderful therapists, aides and teachers with us every step of the way. Alissa has become part of our family, and we’ve celebrated many milestones together, including her wedding and the birth of her own child. 

Gratitude almost isn’t a big enough word to describe the depths of my family’s appreciation. This is our “why,” the reason we’re honored to donate to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation. It’s a very special place, filled with love and joy, and we’re forever grateful for the superhuman commitment of the caregivers there. 

In doing what I do, I’ve been fortunate to come to know so many of you and your own personal “whys,” the myriad ways that your gratitude drives your support for the mission of Cleveland Clinic. In giving, you give thanks, too. 

In this issue of Cleveland Clinic Magazine, we’ve dedicated the entire feature section to “The Gratitude Sessions.” This cross-platform project — complete with a series of documentary-style video shorts — has been a long time in the making, and we’re excited to finally unveil it. Those who give meet those who receive, to share their personal stories and their “whys.” The dialogues come straight from the heart, and I hope that you’re as moved and inspired by them as I am. 

We couldn’t think of a more fitting cover story for this season of giving thanks. And whatever your “why” may be, we simply couldn’t be more grateful for each and every one of you.