Do What You Can


Okay, just in case you have missed any of the chapters let me give you a bit of a reminder of where we are now. My precious son suffered a stroke during my pregnancy, and I ran around frantically trying to “fix” him for about 3 years. My cancer diagnosis at the age of 33 forced me to reevaluate my role as a mother. Healing occurred as I let go and witnessed daily miracles resulting from divine individuals that used their gifts to nurture Grant. After my divorce, I moved from the house where I raised my children, immersed myself in my career as an educator, and watched my firstborn drive away to begin college. At 15, Grant had made tremendous gains academically and socially. With Jake gone, Grant and I morphed into one of those comfortable married couples. We took long walks, completed puzzles, watched Wheel of Fortune nightly…but the spark was missing. My old companion… isolation… blanketed me in a familiar loneliness. Then, on a cold December day during my holiday break, I met him.


Daniel Ellis is a 30 something muscular dynamo that has been involved in personal training for 15 years. While searching for someone to help Grant and I get into better shape, he had been recommended to me by another parent of a teenaged child with special needs. At our first meeting, I informed him I was an overweight, slightly depressed cancer survivor. He kept a straight face, as I overshared the many surgeries and procedures I had faced that would probably result in me being unable to perform many of the exercises he might require. Moving on to my son, I felt it necessary to point out the cerebral palsy that weakens his left side and would make it difficult for him to lift heavy weights. I did my best to set the bar really low, so that Daniel’s expectations would be at the appropriate level. For some unknown reason Daniel accepted the challenge, and we decided to meet at the fitness center in my neighborhood the following week.


Having never worked with a trainer, the only image I could conjure was of a Drill Sargent yelling in your face, “get down and give me 20.” If Daniel’s plan was to break me, he would not have to put forth much effort. Thankfully, his approach was quite different. First, he dazzled us with his brilliant smile. Then, he filled our hour together with lighthearted laughter. And finally, he told us what we needed to do with 100% belief and confidence that we could accomplish anything. In the beginning, Grant would often become frustrated when his body refused to complete the task. Daniel’s patient encouragement coupled with Grant’s never give up attitude was a perfect combination. I have witnessed a magical connection develop over the past two years between these two buddies. There have been moments when I wanted to scream out “Grant can’t do that” when a particularly difficult exercise was presented. Each and every time I have been proven wrong, as I breathlessly witness my son growing stronger every week.


Along with sit-ups, burpees, and squats workouts are infused with laughter. We dress up for holidays, celebrate birthdays, and never miss an opportunity to wear matching T-shirts. Through the years Grant has uttered many funny sayings and called us silly names, but one is now our adopted mantra. Grant started counting down before each and every set of an exercise…5…4…3…2…1. He had heard on a Disney show one of the characters use the phrase BAM, so eventually he added BAHBAM. While getting ready to start a round of exercises one day he made the comment that he was going “to do what he can.” And thus, started the statement that echoes through every sweaty hour that we spend together…5…4…3…2…1 BAH BAM…Do what you can!”


Grant’s passion for exercise has exploded, and his infectious enthusiasm has poured into other areas as well. Thinking about how different our lives would be had I never met Daniel makes me want to panic. You can easily witness the physical transformation that has taken place as we run faster, lift heavier weight, and acknowledge increased endurance. However, there are blessings that are unperceivable by anyone that might see or unique trio. I never envisioned finding an activity that Grant and I could do together. This partnership has brought us closer as we attack common goals. Being a single parent can often make you feel lonely, but knowing Daniel would do anything for Grant is a comfort. I am unaware of the secret ingredients that went into creating our bond, but the end result has been love in its truest form. A feeling that is rooted in the aspiration to help another person see the beauty that lies within. We want nothing more than to capture what we have found and spread it to as many people as possible.


I wanted Grant to have the opportunity to share his thoughts, and so I asked him “Why do you love Daniel Ellis?” Take it away Grant…


I love Daniel Ellis because he teaches me workouts and is a good trainer. When I exercise I feel healthy, strong, and good about myself. He tries to help me hold the position where my body needs to stay. He is patient and cheers me on. He and my Mom laugh all the time. Daniel is my friend and I love him so much.



3…2…1 BAHBAM….I Do What I can!!!