The Presidents's Message 2014 Jan 11, 2014

A Time for Thanks and Maybe a Time to Pray
By Joseph M. Valenzano, Jr.

As we say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in a New Year, I wanted to take a moment to tell each of you how grateful I am for the opportunity to work and be a part of the special needs community. While it has always been the goal of Exceptional Parent (EP Magazine) to provide useful, pragmatic information to help you with the challenging, sometimes daunting task of caring for loved ones with chronic lifelong disorders and special needs, the truth of the matter is that I, and all of us at EP, have learned much from each of you every single day.

Your courage, passion, dedication and commitment to make the lives of your families the best they can be fills me with a range of emotions that are difficult to put into words. But it is not so much your courage in the face of extreme adversity that is so impressive. It is your willingness to reach out and help other families faced with similar challenges. The dedication you show to each other by sharing ideas and experiences, or just lending an attentive ear is truly remarkable. You are a source of motivation and inspiration for me and for the people at Exceptional Parent I am so privileged to lead.

You are all truly exceptional. And your exceptionality and resiliency will be put to the test again in 2014

All of us face significant obstacles in 2014, make no mistake. There are difficult times ahead as we try to reconcile and come to grips with a new law and health care system few people really understand. Then too, we are still a nation with high unemployment, a stagnant economy despite the rhetoric out of Washington, and an incomprehensible level of national debt now in excess of $17 trillion, and rising, which, if left unchecked, will eat at the fabric of our nation for years to come. Donations and sponsorships for worthy causes are more difficult to come by and it seems every day we learn about some new scandal that has rocked our government. And, we are still faced with the scourge of terrorism not just from abroad but also right here at home. These are difficult times indeed.

I am by no means a saint and I can assure you that there will be no movement towards my canonization. But I grew up Roman Catholic and I try to practice my religion every day. Now, I know it is not politically correct these days to say this, but I have never been accused of being "politically correct" so I will say it anyway. In these times of great challenges, do you think it is wise to cast God aside and ignore Him?

Let us never forget, despite what you might hear from the pundits and people in Washington, that we are a Christian Nation and our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. That is a fact no revisionist history can alter. President Reagan once said that "if we ever forget that we are one Nation under God, then we will be a Nation gone under." The Reverend Billy Graham also reminded us so eloquently that, "Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil, it has no point."

Three years ago, one of the guys I grew up with in my neighborhood in New York City came down with pancreatic cancer. He was told it was Stage 4 and he had maybe six to nine months to live. I consider myself fortunate as I am still able to be in close contact with the folks I went to Catholic grammar school with, back in the 1950's. We are a close knit group as we have known each other since we were young kids. We started a prayer chain for our friend and we kept at it during his treatment. We had dinner with him and his wife very recently, three years after his cancer was diagnosed. He told us that about six months into his treatment, three years ago at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC, arguably one of the best care centers for cancer treatment in the world, his cancer had vanished. No one could explain it in medical terms, and it may very well be the superb aggressive care he received at MSK. But I believe, as do my classmates, that prayer helped. I know it didn't hurt.

So my message to you is try to put prayer back in your lives. Speak to God as often as you can. He listens. Let us pray for all the families in the special needs community, as well as our servicemen and women around the world, who sacrifice much for the freedoms we enjoy. And if the "Political Correctness Police" show up, ask them to pray with you. Tell them they will be better people for it.

Have a happy, healthy New Year and God bless!

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