"Terry's Story"

Part's 1, 2, 3 & 4

Dan & Terry McDonald

Naples, Collier County, Florida

Email Me

 

Jan 2012

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 1

God made me Terry's father

Terry is 4-years old and was diagnosed in the Autism Spectrum in July 05. He is non-verbal and currently works at Building Blocks in Naples with Speech, Physical, Occupational and ABA Therapies. We are fortunate to have Terry and he is an easy going, happy young boy. He works hard with his PECS and has begun to develop his own manner & method to communicate his needs. My wife works tirelessly with him and affords me the time to explain his development, therapists directions and habits we, as parents, must break sometimes in his best interest. His older brother & younger sister have adapted well to Terry and they love one another's company & friendship. We try to find the bright side of things with Terry and believe we have been blessed to have him in our lives. He keeps us humble, focused and remembering that we must work as hard as parents as Terry does to overcome his autism. He does it with poise and teaches us as much as we teach him. God made me Terry's father, but Terry has taught me to be his Dad.

~ Dan McDonald

 

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 2

Dan & Terry McDonald
Naples, Florida
 

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 2

Hi Wilbur,

I have to tell you, the Hoyt's changed my life in January of this year. With the stresses of work, schedules, debt, doctors and insurance companies, I let myself fall into such terrible physical shape. My blood pressure and cholesterol were through the roof. I always think about you telling me that your goal with your son was that you were committed that he "wouldn't be on my couch when he's 30" and you made that happen. I think about that all the time and am committed to giving Terry those same opportunities.

 

Last year, my wife wanted to start running to deal with the her stress and in January, she completed the Disney Marathon. When I got home from watching her race, I decided it was time to change. In the first week of turning things around, my Dad sent me this same video about the Hoyt's. This was the final piece of the puzzle for me. In January, I was 280-Today, I weighed in at 209. I completed my first sprint-distance triathlon in March and have completed five more since then. I will never be another "Dick Hoyt" Nobody will. But, I'm determined to be the Best Dad to Terry I can be. We run road races together and he loves it. Terry is my Hero!!!

 

The picture above is from the Naples-Pippin's 5K on July 4, 07.

 

Thanks for sharing this video with others Wil.

 

You are the Best!!!

~ Dan McDonald

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 3

Dan & Terry McDonald
Naples, Florida
 

 

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 3

Hi Wilbur,

Long before I ever heard of autism or had Terry bless our lives, I was a 20 year old college student in Ohio.  The year was 1989. I was playing football and took a class in Inspiration & Motivation.  My professor was a coach and he assigned us the responsibility of reading a book by Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz.  In the book, the coach talked about shortly after being fired from a job, homeless, his wife due to deliver a child any day, he wrote down nearly 100 goals in his life he wanted to accomplish and still used that list as direction in his life.  I was so intrigued by that, I sat down and wrote out 75 goals I wanted to accomplish in my life.  Many of those goals, I have achieved (examples: earning a master's degree, getting married and #1: Becoming a Father).  I had recently watched a replay of the 1981 Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and saw Julie Moss crawl across the finish line.  I listed racing in Hawaii and completing the Ironman as my #6 goal.  As 20 years went by, marriage, parenthood, jobs, responsibilities and getting VERY out of shape consumed my life.  Terry was now in our lives and I was working to get into some type of manageable shape to ensure I would be around for him.  I never lost sight of the Ironman, but as I worked to get into better shape and started running shorter races, the Ironman began to enter my mind more often.

 

Getting in this race requires qualifying or winning a lottery slot.  These slots are highly sought after.  Usually about 7,000 buy tickets for 150 slots across the United States.  In 2008, I bought a lottery ticket to try to get into the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.  The race I had watched 20 years prior and dreamed of someday completing.  I was glued to the TV the day the selections were announced, but I was not chosen.

 

My wife bought my ticket in 2009 and to be honest, Easter Sunday fell on the day the lottery winners were announced and I forgot to watch.  With a house full of family and friends, my triathlon coach called me to say he saw my name on the list.  I immediately went to the website and reviewed the list.  I made it!  I was going to Kona.  When I reviewed the application, I read what my wife had written about why I wanted to go to Hawaii.  She talked about my focus.  It wasn't on my list of goals, it was to bring awareness to autism.  It was to race for my son.

 

I trained like never before in my life.  Twice a day, sometimes three times a day.  Getting up at 4:00am and riding my bike for 80 or 100 miles.  It was spending my weekends running and swimming.  It was 6 months of missing birthdays, family dinners, football games and not getting to tuck my kids in bed at night.  It was telling myself no matter how much I would suffer in training or on race day, it is only a shadow of my son's struggles to live without speech in a world build around on communication.

 

October 10, 2010, you don't have forever to finish an Ironman. You have time cutoffs for each leg of the race. You miss one and your day is over.  I had to make it.

 

I am treading water, waiting for the cannon to fire and the race of my life to begin.  BOOM!  I can't believe I'm doing this.  I'm racing in the Ironman World Championships.  I'm racing for Terry.  A group out of California called Train 4 Autism sponsored my with a race jersey and a wristband.  The wristband had a slot that allowed you to put a picture in it.  I put my favorite picture of Terry and we spent the day together.  It was one of the greatest days of my life.

 

After 2.4 miles of swimming in the Pacific Ocean, 112 miles of cycling through the wind and heat of the Kona lava fields and 26.2 miles of running, I crossed the finish line.  I wasn't the recipient of the finisher's medal that day.  I was a representative of those touched by autism and I represented my son's absolute unwillingness to ever quit.  I wasn't athlete #917, I was Terry's Dad and I've never been more proud.  God Bless and Never Give Up!

~ Dan McDonald

03.14.10

 

"Terry's Story"

Part 4

Terry and I are still loving life and laughing everyday. Stay strong & remember there is always someone out there struggling through greater challenges than you! No matter how bad it gets, you will be stronger when you make it through the tough times.

October 2015

 

 

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