Daniel Stone’s senior year should have ended the way he had been planning for so long: with prom and graduation and parties with his friends.
Instead, he has spent the last seven weeks at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis undergoing ECT, commonly know as shock therapy, in an attempt to treat an onset of delirium. Doctors think it may be related to CHARGE syndrome, a rare disorder Daniel was born with that causes physical abnormalities and developmental delays.
At 18 years old, Daniel is at a second- to third-grade level academically. But as an outgoing special needs student, Daniel has been involved in many clubs and activities at Triad High School in Troy, Illinois. The day of his graduation, he put on his cap and gown, walked around the hospital and watched an online broadcast of the ceremony with his family.
His parents, Kurt and Linda Stone, wrote a letter to the senior class, which Kurt read to them during the rehearsal a day before the graduation. Kurt broke down in tears several times during the address. He wanted the class of about 250 students to know what they had given his son and their family. The following is part of what he said.
“In late 2003, when Daniel was 5 years old, our family was at a crossroads and Linda and I made the decision to relocate our family to Troy from Indiana. The move was for our entire family, but primarily for Daniel. We wanted Daniel to benefit by being in one school district for three reasons: a special education program with case management for all his school years, continuity with teachers through the grade levels, and consistency of friendships from year to year.
“You have done it! You are Daniel’s friends. From January 2004 to May 2017, you, the Class of 2017, have provided the consistency of friendship we hoped and prayed for Daniel.
“Every parent’s desire, especially parents of a student with special needs, is for our child not only to be cared for, but to be loved for who they are.
“You have loved our Daniel! So we thank you for the many ways you have demonstrated your love for Daniel. You loved Daniel when you:
... tied his shoes.
... sat at the table with him in the cafeteria, so no one eats alone.
... nicknamed him ‘Big D!’
... rode bikes with him on his birthday.
... laughed with him when he makes silly animal sounds.
... asked him how he was doing, and you stopped to really listen to his response.
... volunteered to be his partner in P.E.
... were his seatmate on the school bus.
... traveled with him to watch and cheer for the University of Evansville Purple Aces basketball team.
... planned and hosted after-school holiday parties for the the Life Skills students.
... helped him with an art project.
... included him in your group on the football student fan bus to away/playoff games.
... played, and sometimes won, doubles tennis matches.
... gave him a ride home after basketball practice and games.
... bought a delicious fresh-baked cookie for a fundraiser.
... gifted him a can of Crush soda on Valentine’s Day from the band.
... toured Washington, D.C. during the eighth-grade trip to the nation’s capital.
... noshed with him in New York City on the band trip.
... petted the bum of a koala bear with him in Australia during the summer trip.
... invited him to your house to watch University of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball.
... made sure he had a date, or was his date, to homecoming or prom.
... cheered for every three-point basketball shot he launched, and taught him to show the ‘3-baller’ sign for every one he made.
... gave up a basketball shot of your own, to pass the ball to Daniel so he could shoot it.
... signed one of the four giant ‘Get Well Soon’ poster cards delivered to him at the hospital.
... counted measures and measures of beats in the musical score so you could cue Daniel at the very moment he needed to play the suspended cymbal or strike the triangle during a band concert.
“This is just the beginning of the list, and you know it, of the ways you have not only cared for Daniel, but loved him. And for all of that and your genuine friendship with him, we and the entire Stone family are profoundly grateful.
“There’s a spiritual song titled, ‘When It’s All Been Said and Done’ -- listen to it sometime during your personal quiet time -- with these lyrical lines:
‘When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward
Will stand the test of time.’
“What you’ve done is love a friend,” said Kurt. “It will stand for eternity.”