Brotherhood, Stairs & Thanksgiving…

What an absolutely magical weekend! What could have started as another trip to the annual Kappa Sigma Parents Weekend at UNCW (an amazing event in its own right) turned into an epic 72-hour road trip! We received our invitation from the Brothers of Kappa Sigma just like last year, only this year has been a year like no other. Last year was a Saturday in/Sunday out kinda trip…see the boy, enjoy the event, go to bed, wake up, feed the boy, give some cash and head back to Raleigh. Not this year…. reservations to arrive on Thursday to ensure we arrived prepared, not bunking up in just one room, two rooms it is…no adjoining rooms…that’s okay, but accessibility is a must. First semi-vacation road trip after the accident. Setup some meetings with the UNCW administration to better understand what a Ryley Hopper homecoming in Fall 2017 would look like. We debated bringing two cars down but were able to get the four of us in Ry’s new ride (minus Will Hopper, busy with internship/college at UNCG and making us proud), looking like we we’d be gone for over a week. Got a basic manual chair to bring along, the 300+ lb chair might not be the easiest to navigate into the events venue, the Cape Fear Club…a place founded on March 3, 1866 and with a 30+ tread staircase! Uneventful ride down as we drove down in the “Fight4Ry”… the most tweaked out bada$$ minivan in these parts… 🙂 As we crossed over the Cape Fear River you could see the excitement in Ryley’s eyes…he was back. Pulling into the Courtyard Marriott we were asked if we’d like self or valet parking…noticing the accessible parking sign I said, we’ll take that. For about 5 seconds our valet started to explain the spot was only for checking in …by the 6th second we had our spot for the weekend. A blessing or curse…but either way the spot was now taken by a deserved person/vehicle unlike many I’ve seen over the past several weeks…a completely differently post for another day. Nice rooms overall but it’s certainly in the eyes/definition of the beholder on what accessible truly means. Regardless, we were hungry and a little dinner take out and what I thought was going to be a quiet night would be great….yeah right. The Kap Sig boys could smell that Ryley was in town…and Ryley wanted out. There was a party and everyone wanted to see him. I hate to say it this way, but it felt like I was dropping my kid off at that first play date and I hadn’t met the parents yet. Even more realistically terrifying was that I was driving a minivan and had to physically bring him up to the front door, knock and enter. My last words, “please don’t break him”… At least the laughter from the college crew put mine and Kim‘s mind at ease for a bit. Hours later we were back and initiated a successful extraction. Good first night back in college life…I remember it like it was 30 years ago…oh wait, it was. Friday morning came early but we were all raring to go on campus to meet with administration to ask, learn and absorb all the things required to get Ryley back on campus Fall 2017. We met with the dean of student’s office, toured accessible on-campus housing and met with the disability resource office. Lots to consider and do before next fall, but lots of support and desire to get Ryley back where he wants to be. Rinse and repeat for a Friday night beach party, this time with Colby in tow, and there you have our first 48 hours back to Dub Nation. Saturday was a bit of a rest day with us all enjoying a little “sleep in” getting ready for what would be an epic night. Time to dress up and head out! I knew it would be a great evening based on last year’s turnout but this night had special meaning beyond words. Just look at the photos in this post and you can see the pure excitement and happiness in everyone’s eyes…including my boy Ryley’s. We have witnessed and felt the deepest sorrow and greatest joy over the past 4 months…sometimes within the same day. Saturday night was pure unadulterated joy and it was magical. For the night, things were normal, the way they were…I was thankful. As we begin the holiday week and you travel or have family and loved ones travel to you be safe and most importantly be thankful for what you have, enjoy that feeling of unadulterated joy wherever and whenever you can find it.
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
Thank you for all the continued support! We love you all!