by Sidney Kushner
Okay full disclosure here: Camden is awesome. All of our kids are awesome, but Camden has the very special distinction of being our first kid when we launched here in Pittsburgh in 2013!
Camden has grown up with us, taught us, and shared lots & lots of smiles along the way.
I’ll never forget the day I first met then 4-year-old Camden way back in the day. He was too shy to talk with me or even make eye contact really, but the one thing he was comfortable enough doing was show me his wrestling moves ….on his mom.
Yes, body slams and all.
It was adorable seeing Camden and his mom bond like that. I learned so much about love in that very moment.
I told his parents that I could try and find a WWE wrestler for Camden, but they said more than anything, they just wanted a special friend for their son. Like many of our younger kids, Camden was diagnosed at such a young age that he hadn’t yet made friends, but was sick enough that he couldn’t be in school with other kids his age. He (and maybe just maybe Mom too) wanted a new friend for showing off his wrestling moves.
I put on my most intense wrestling face (I’m sure you can imagine me as a WWE wrestler, right?) and asked, “Well, can I be Camden’s friend?”
And the rest was history. We found another special friend, Julie, who was a Pitt grad student studying to work with kids when she grows, who could be Camden's friend too.
Camden, Julie, and I have had playdates together every couple of weeks for the past two-and-a-half years. We’ve gone to the park, hit home run derbies (I think his home run count is up to the 500s now, so if you’re reading this, watch out Barry Bonds), saw Jurassic World, played glow-in-the-dark mini golf, practiced handwriting, and even learned how to build circuits at the Children's Museum.
Oh yeah, and practiced our wrestling moves of course!
A couple months ago we celebrated Camden’s 7th birthday.
The party was hosted by some pretty special people in our family, the CCChampions student group at the University of Pittsburgh! The theme was Star Wars.
In November, they threw Camden an awesome Star Wars birthday. Camden brought his Mom & Dad, cousins, and me. It was amazing watching him interact with the Pitt students. Just like I did back in 2013, the college students walked right up to Camden and started asking him all kinds of questions.
But Camden wasn't shy this time.
He immediately started talking with everyone, and even surprised his new friends with the Star Wars shirt he was wearing under his coat!
Camden has come so far in the past three years, and he’s grown into such a kind, outgoing, confident 1st grader.
He’s going to make a special footprint in this world, and I feel so blessed to be able to call him my friend.