Nick Santonastasso entered his drawing in a statewide contest in New Jersey on the theme of family values. His drawing showed a tree and above it were the words, “The roots of a family are…” Beneath the tree, the root system spelled out the final word of the message, “Love.” He won the contest and got to meet the governor, on the merit of his drawing. The contest judges were totally unaware of Nick’s unusual physical condition.
Nick is a unique 12-year-old who has no legs and only one arm which has only one finger. His right arm ends in a stump a couple of inches from his shoulder, and it is with a pen tucked between his stump and chin that he writes and draws. But, drawing is not all Nick does. He likes to say, “Anything’s possible,” as he plays baseball, football, does a headstand on his skateboard, plays the keyboard and drums, types on a computer, helps in the kitchen and plays video games. When asked why he attacks life with such gusto, he replied, “My parents just keep encouraging me to do stuff — like, don’t give up and keep trying. If you fall down, get back up.”
Nick has been diagnosed with Hanhart Syndrome Type II, a rare genetic disorder identified in only 11 other people. His parents, Michael and Stacey, have three other children and they resolved to treat Nick the same as the others, with love, but without excuses. Unlike most parents, they have not tried to protect them from failure. Stacey said, “If you do have a small failure, it just makes you stronger to succeed at the next stop…and you want to accomplish more.” Nick added, “It builds self-confidence in yourself to try it again.”
Early in life, Nick tried prosthetic legs and a prosthetic right arm, but he thought they limited his mobility. He’s mainstreamed at school and gets good grades. He rides a wheelchair at school, but at home he scampers around using just his arm. His mother said, “He has no boundaries. He’s just a happy kid. You want to be around him, because it’s always fun.” His father said, “We’re supposed to be heroes to our children, but Nick is a hero to us.”
What are the setbacks that may have you wondering right now if life is worth living? What reversals in court or in life have made you want to toss in the towel? Don’t do it! Nick’s example calls us to persevere. More importantly, God’s Word calls for the same. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.