Ben Miller was born in March 1991 a normal, healthy little boy. The world was full of opportunities for him, and his parents had big dreams and hopes for his future. At age three months, following his first immunizations, Ben's life was changed forever. Thirteen days following the shots, he began having seizures. At first the doctors were hopeful that the seizures would be controlled with medication or outgrown. His first two years of life were spent in a drug haze. He was placed on every seizure medication, in every combination, and in large doses. The seizures continued. Just before his third birthday, Ben underwent seizure surgery in hopes that he could be healed. He had part of his Parietal, Temporal, and Frontal lobes removed surgically. Of course as his mother, it was the most horrifying experience paling only to the experience of watching his little body twisted and writhing from the relentless seizures that had taken over his life. The surgery was not without side effects. He now had right-sided partial paralysis and significant speech impairment. And, sadly, it did not work. As the years have passed we have tried new treatments including the Ketogenic diet which he was on for ten years, and the implantation of a Vagal Nerve stimulator, twice. Both have had minimal success. Ben is now twenty-six. His seizures are severe, frequent, and daily. Some days are great, and some days he doesn't remember our names. Yet, he still remembers Saturday's are for baseball.
From the beginning we were hopeful that although Ben had seizures, he would be a regular kid in every other way. He would go to school, sleepovers, play sports, and have a normal life. As the years passed it became quite clear that these dreams were not going to be realized. The one saving grace was that until age 11 he played baseball with his three brothers. He played with the younger kids, and he loved it. He loved the applause, and he was incredibly proud of himself. He laughed, smiled, and for one hour a week he was just like everyone else. That was until the day we got a phone call that the league he played in could no longer make modifications for Ben, and that he could no longer play. It was a devastating blow. Another dream shattered and another opportunity taken away. He missed his friends, and he missed playing ball. So, what's a mother to do?
If you build it, they will come
The Buddy League was born in the Fall of 2002. It began for Ben, but as the weeks went by, it was all too clear that it was no longer just for Ben. It was for all the other kids out there who also needed the chance to be just regular kids if only for one hour a week. It was for all of the other parents who watch helplessly as their children are excluded and shunned. I never imagined when I started this league that there were so many other families just like mine. I never knew when I started this league just how much I had learned from my son. Although my original dreams for Ben will not come true, I now have new dreams for Ben and a new mission for myself. There should be a safe, accepting place for these special kids to play that is just for them. It should be free from teasing and failures. In Buddy League sports, everyone plays, everyone is cheered, and everyone is a winner.