We often hear the words “you have your whole life ahead of you.” It is full of hope. There is the promise that as you get older your life opens up and the number of people “you have in your corner” will increase. It is not always the same for a young person living with serious illness.
Recently I spoke to Ethan, a remarkable young man who came to Next Step when he was in high school. He was born with Prune Belly Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which causes chronic kidney disease, scoliosis and hydrocephalus. So far, Ethan has endured more than 50 surgeries. He has experienced pain, prolonged absences from school, and missed everyday milestones in is life.
Ethan is also an ordinary twenty-year-old with dreams of graduating from college, close friends, hobbies, and independence. Unfortunately, most of his high school teachers said he wouldn’t be able to go to college. Being involved with sports seemed crazy to the people around him, and his classmates didn’t take the time to get to know him. Those who should have believed in Ethan didn’t.
“I was in high school, living in a world that didn’t accept me or expect much from me, and didn’t help me prepare to be who I can be. Then I went to my first Next Step Campference and they believed in me.” -Ethan-
But you believed and decided to invest in Ethan and young people like him living with cancer, HIV and rare genetic disorders. Your support of Next Step programs provides a community where young adults feel safe enough to laugh, share personal stories and pursue their dreams.
Because of you, seriously ill young people are taking their next steps to becoming the person they want to be and pursuing their dreams.
Please make a donation to the 2022 Next Step Annual Fund and help us connect with even more young people in the coming year. Thank you.
Executive Director & Founder, Next Step