By Bill Perrine, Hammer Volunteer

My name is Bill Perrine and I am entering my eighth year as a volunteer for Hammer Residences. Back when Hammer was considering a major event to build its awareness and fundraising efforts, my friend Lisa Anderson called me to ask if I could put my event management background to good use. Throughout my life I had volunteered occasionally for one-off events. But, Lisa’s call got me thinking that it was time to do something more regularly.

Bill and Trevor Studanski at Reach for Ralph 2013.

Bill and Trevor Studanski at Reach for Ralph 2013.

Once I started I was hooked on the notion of helping any way I could. I am not a skilled social professional and have only limited experience with individuals who have disabilities. I was at one time, however, very close to getting my own crash course.

When my son Max was four months old, his mother and I noticed one night that he was not well. He was not responding to any of the known home remedies we tried. He had a sustained, elevated fever and a “wounded lamb” murmur that was agonizing to hear.

Bill and Max 3At 5:00am the next morning, we decided to rush him to an otherwise empty emergency room – which ended up being very impactful. The doctor performed an exam and found nothing unusual, but this only troubled him more. Based on the prolonged symptoms and what I believe to this day was one of those treasured physician gut feelings, the doctor ordered an immediate spinal tap. Watching the procedure and then hearing the diagnosis were gut wrenching…Four-month-old Max had contracted pneumococcal meningitis.

Max was put on intravenous meds immediately and was hospitalized for 10 days. Because he was diagnosed so quickly (thanks in part to the unusually empty ER) and treated properly, Max made a full recovery and has had no related effects.

During this ordeal, I was preparing for the possibility of hearing loss, brain damage or some other developmental disability. Despite the fact that nothing surfaced, I still feel a connection to those with disabilities. It genuinely warms my heart to see someone with a disability out in the community with those who support them.

So, contributing in some way to advance Hammer’s mission is a byproduct of my experience with Max. Our lives could have turned out much differently. I truly value Hammer and am in awe of how much they have grown over the years. It is my honor to contribute to such an amazing organization, and I cannot wait to make dreams come true at next week’s Reach for Ralph!

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