Note: The Women's Club of South County in Wakefield, Rhode Island, sponsors a "Spirit of Giving" essay contest every year for the 6th graders in their schools. It is based on the premise "if you were a local business person and you had $200 to donate to your favorite charity, which would you choose, and why." Frankie Miller, age 12, won 2nd place out of 166 essays. His essay is below:
Sitting at my desk I don’t have to think long about the charity I would like to donate to, “The National Parkinson Foundation.” My first thought is my grandfather Frank who I am named after, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease five years ago and it is a sneaky, slow and devastating disease.
At first the symptoms were small and not that noticeable, my mother told him it is probably arthritis from working in a factory with his hands for so many years. As months went by though we started to notice my grandfather slowing down, but he’d say it was just arthritis. Finally, my grandfather agreed to go to a place in New Haven that specializes in Parkinson’s Research. Sadly, the brain scan showed signs of Parkinson’s.
As I sit here now I run through changes I see in my grandfather from this horrible disease, for which there is no cure, and it hurts. My grandfather was a runner for 30 years and he was a star athlete in high school. But that is not the reason I love and respect him, it is his time, countless hours spent with me playing baseball, I could never add up how many fly balls he threw me, how many ground balls, and how many games he made up in the backyard that we’d play for hours.
Even though he is taking medication, it is not helping, I see him getting worse. It is so unfair that a disease like this can rob a person of everything.
My grandfather is a very strong man though, he still plays ball with me even though it is hard for him to walk, and he still has me pitch to him at full speed even though his reflexes are not what they once were. He still drives an hour and a half to watch every one of my games.
One day last summer after a baseball game, he called my mother and said “I don’t know what I’d do without Frankie, I live for him, he’s the reason to get out of bed every morning, I replay his game in my head and I am so proud of him.” He says a saying his father always said about baseball “God only puts his hand on a chosen few.” And then he says, “I think Frankie is one of them.” Well, I think my grandfather is one of them. Every time I go up to bat, or I am pitching, or even making a play on shortstop, I think of what he taught me, the time he’s spent with me, and I pray to God this disease does not take my grandfather, because I live for him, too.