April 1, 2015



May 17th is a date that one Mississauga family will never forget. Mine is the family and the date was the day my ten month old grandson Jesse fell into our backyard pond. His heart stopped beating and

he survived 55 minutes without drawing a single breath of life giving oxygen. But what has happened to the child since then? What of his three year journey since that dark day. The following is an update of his story.


Periodically I will notice someone looking at Jesse a little longer than one would expect as he sits back in his stroller. I can almost hear their thoughts. "What a handsome boy, but there is something that seems not quite right about him. He looks completely normal yet his movements don't seem completely normal and the sounds he is making aren't really words." I will admit, they are all justifiable thoughts and observations. Since Jesse's accident he has continued to grow normally. His once bald head eventually became a full head of blonde. He has all his teeth and he is now three feet tall. All his major and minor organs function normally, his heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, etc. But Jesse's accidental drowning destroyed a great majority of the neurons in his brain. Neurons are the connections made relaying messages between the billions of cells that eventually dictate the movements of his arms, legs, tongue, balance and the myriad of other functions that we all do without training, and almost without conscious thought at all. These are the cells that were lost in the cold water of our pond. Since that day Jesse has fought a long fight to rebuild. It is like a bridge that was blown out that connected the island to the mainland, the bridge that needs each beam put back in place. The bridge that can connect him once again to the outside world. For three years now we have searched for every nut and bolt needed for reconstruction.


The discovery of each traditional and non-traditional therapy has led to the gradual rebuilding effort and every week Jesse along with his family witness the small changes in his senses, his responses and his abilities, each new discovery met with rounds of applause. Jesse's face lights up with smiles as he senses that he is learning, that he is improving, and that our prayers are being answered. Today once again the walls of our home will reflect the sound of our cheering.


I have learned so much respect for Jesse as I have seen the strength of his will, the incredible effort he makes to overcome every obstacle that stands in his path and I have learned the anthem that has become a part of him, to "Never give up", the anthem that many of us as adults have yet to embrace. We as a family have believed from the beginning that there is a way to heal the damage that was done. We know that with each new discovery Jesse makes within himself he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, a possible way out of the prison of his injury. I am honoured to share my faculties with Jesse, to use my legs to move him and my arms to carry him until the day arrives when he will carry himself. His mother, his grandmother and myself continually straightening the road of recovery stretching into the distance ahead of him. 


Jesse looks at us and sees the hope in our eyes and we see the future in his. The future he will make with the strength of his will, and with pain, and effort, and patience and love and prayer. He will meet every challenge head on and slay the disability within him. It is a challenge that we did not choose but one we will not turn from, for we believe that the chasm that exists within him will one day close and the bridge of his dreams will be realized.


Bob Arrigo


Please reload