The greatest gift you can give a child with special needs is a sibling. For Luke, that gift was Shane, followed up with his little brother Cole. This journey with Luke calls for much of our time and I have to say things would be so much more difficult if it wasn’t for Shane.

This past summer, we decided to do something that would show our appreciation. Shane loves Basketball. I had recently read a book entitled “The Contract” by Pat Forde, which is the story of the Fredette family, in particular, the youngest member Jimmer Fredette and his journey to the NBA. Last winter, I had seen a posting online stating that Jimmer would be hosting a basketball camp in Saratoga, NY. I immediately thought Shane will be a part of this. I won’t go into a full blown book review, but the Fredette family story was one of love, support, understanding and just living life the right way. What stood out most was the relationship between Jimmer and his older brother T.J. and the sacrifices and dedication that was made towards Jimmer achieving his ultimate goal of playing in the NBA. In addition, Shane has never met a professional basketball player and I knew this first experience could be life altering. Jimmer and his family did not disappoint.

Since really taking a liking to basketball, this Jimmer Jam Camp was the first time Shane was in a position to play with kids his own age. I have to say Shane made the most of this opportunity. I am smiling just thinking about all the compliments he received, from instructors working at the camp, to parents of children we’ve never met before. Watching Shane trying to get Jimmer’s attention was priceless. As a father, I was so excited to see Shane not only make a shot in Jimmer’s presence, but also receive a high five from the former NCAA Player of the Year and leading scorer at Brigham Young University.

Shane's jumper

Shane’s jumper

Jimmer showing the campers his shooting technique and range

Jimmer showing the campers his shooting technique and range

The camp was not all about improving your basketball skills. We also had the opportunity of meeting Coach Rich Johns who runs a program called Act with Respect Always. The camp would frequently break for talks by Jimmer and his dad, Al, as well as Coach Johns. At this time the kids would hear about character building, treating others with respect (starting with your parents) and paying things forward. At one point Coach Johns used an act of Shane’s as an example.

Shane w/Coach Rich John's of Act With Respect Always (Photo is courtesy of the Sartogian newspaper)

Shane w/Coach Rich Johns of Act With Respect Always (Photo is courtesy of the

Shane, Luke, myself with Jimmer Fredette

Shane, Luke, myself with Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette might not be a household name like LeBron or Kobe, but he will always be the first NBA player that watched Shane play basketball. As a parent I will always be grateful for not only his time, but the kindness and conversations we had with his parents Al and Kay, as well as Jimmer’s siblings, T.J & Lindsay and all of the instructors involved. At the time, there was no way of any of them knowing exactly what all this meant to Shane. I’m not sure Shane knew, but I’ve never seen him as appreciative of anything as he was for being a part of Jimmer Jam. Shane is a key part to the engine that helps us go on. This was just one way of thanking him.

I could go on forever about this camp experience, but I want to hear from you. Was there an experience that you felt changed your family for the better?

For more on the Fredette Family and The Fredette Family Foundation, as well as Coach Rich Johns’s program, check out these sites: