LOOKING BACK AFTER 25 YEARS 07/10/09
The following article was submitted by Troy Cupps, a 1984 graduate of De Queen High School who recently visited De Queen with his family for his 25th year Class reunion.
The Funny Thing About Time by Troy Cupps
"High school reunions are like time transporters, I think. They sweep us back into our past where we relive the friendships of our youth, improbable crushes and endless summer days. They trigger memories long forgotten of old acquaintances that scattered with the wind once the last bell rang. More than anything, high school reunions help us make sense of the direction are lives have taken—of who we’ve become as adults.
It’s fitting that my 25th De Queen High School reunion would find me so circumspect. After all, this marked my first time to catch up with old buddies, find out who had remarried and who had unexpectedly passed away. But this reunion held a far greater significance to me. This was the year my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare medical condition most people have never heard of. Without a cure, his life expectancy will be cut painfully short. He may not live to attend high school much less enjoy a reunion. Time is not his friend.
My wife Michelle and I are extremely blessed to have found each other. We own a small business in Tulsa, where we are raising three beautiful sons and a daughter. We have a busy, hectic life like most people and wouldn’t trade a day of it. When we learned in February that our four year old son, Mitchell, was suffering from Schimke Immunooseous Dysplasia, one of the rarest forms of dwarfism, we were devastated. Our world is going to look a lot different from this moment forward, I told myself.
And I wasn’t wrong.
Since Mitchell’s diagnosis, our family has launched a crusade of sorts. We simply cannot watch our little boy continue to suffer from the debilitating symptoms of Schimke, such as kidney failure, high blood pressure, and migraines so severe they paralyze one side of his tiny body.
Unlike most dwarfs you might have seen, Mitchell is perfectly proportioned but stands only 27 and a half inches tall. He now weighs 18 pounds. His greatest passion is Taekwondo and let me tell you he is a fighter in every sense of the word. To our joy and astonishment, he recently broke through his second board. Yes, Mitchell is one giant of a kid.
After hundreds of hours and long sleepless nights educating ourselves about Schimke, we were fortunate to discover a research geneticist in Vancouver who believes a drug called Ataluren may be the cure we and other parents of Schimke kids have been waiting for. My wife and I quickly realized that our fight wasn’t limited to just our son; that there may be hundreds of parents around the world with a Schimke child who has been misdiagnosed—a fact we’ve learned is extremely common.
I guess you could say we’ve made our battle even bigger, but that’s alright. With time and money, Schimke is curable. We just don’t have enough of either right now. What’s the old saying, when one door closes another one opens? Yes, I think that’s so. We’ve taken our crusade public by forming the Little Giants Foundation. We created a fan page on Facebook and emailed hundreds of family, friends and business associates to spread the word about our efforts. We tell anyone who will listen about our son, our mission, and our relentless determination to save Mitchell’s life.
As we drove into De Queen the Friday before the reunion, I was excited to revisit the old placesand faces that shaped the man I am today. The old time transporter returned me to my past where my mother and father, Sam and Mary Cupps, and sister, Laura, lived on Maple Street. Where I threw newspapers after school and mowed lawns on the weekends. Where my family lived right next door to Ray Kimball, a long ago owner of the DeQueen Bee who expected his paper early if not on time every afternoon.
Where I never could’ve imagined how life would look a few decades later. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? You can’t touch it, hurry it or stop it but you can almost witness the minutes tick by in the eyes of someone you love. I see it every day when I look at my youngest son and I saw it this past weekend at my 25th high school reunion.
You may send Troy an email at: Troy@LittleGiantsFoundation.org