Our guest on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast is Jeremy Meinhardt. Jeremy and his wife Meg have two children, Beck, 15 and Nellie, 12, who has Spina Bifida. We’ll hear about Jeremy, his Dad, his family and how Nellie loves to play wheelchair basketball. That’s all on this Special Fathers Network Dad to Dad Podcast.
Illinois Spina Bifida Association: https://i-sba.org
Synergy Special Recreation DuPage: https://www.nedsra.org/participate/synergy-adaptive-athletics/ … See More
Tom Couch: Special, thanks to horizon therapeutics for sponsoring today’s special father’s network, dad to dad podcast, working tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic diseases. Discover more about horizon therapeutics, mission at horizon therapeutics com
Jeremy Meinhardt: get out there and get involved. If you’re an adult living with special needs and you have the capacity to do it. And if you’re a kid living with special needs and, and have the capacity, do it, go out there and find something to do and get engaged in, in the community. Um, and even if you don’t want to do it for yourself as a parent, do it for the kid, because it will make all the difference in the world.
Tom Couch: That’s Jeremy, Meinhardt Jeremy and his wife, Meg have two children, Beck 15 and Nellie 12, who has spinal bifida. We’ll hear about Jeremy, his dad, his family, and how Nellie loves to play wheelchair basketball. That’s all on this special father’s network, dad to dad podcast say hello to David Hirsch.
David Hirsch: Hi, and thanks for listening to the dad to dad podcast, fathers, mentoring, fathers of children with special needs presented by the school father’s network.
Tom Couch: special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process. New fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for dads to support dads, to find out more, go to 21st century dads.org.
David Hirsch: your dad looking for help or would like to offer help, we’d be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad
Tom Couch: death. And now let’s listen to this conversation between David Hirsch and Jeremy Meinhart.
David Hirsch: I’m thrilled to be talking today with Jeremy Meinhardt of Bartlett, Illinois.
Who’s a father of two and a financial advisor with Edward Jones and company. Jeremy, thank you for taking the time to do a podcast interview for the special father’s network. You bet David
Jeremy Meinhardt: I’m honored to be here and seeing the list of guests you’ve interviewed over the past couple of years. Thank you.
David Hirsch: You and your wife, Maggie have been married for 16 years. One of the proud parents of two children, son Beck, who’s 15 and daughter Nellie. Who’s 12, who also has bonobo. Let’s start with some background. Where did you grow up? Tell me something about your face.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Sure. So David, I grew up in a town called Jefferson city, Missouri.
It’s about halfway between Casey and St. Louis, which is about half an hour south of both of them. I lived in Jeff until I was about 20 and moved to Lawrence to go to school. Would do the university of Kansas. Uh, after graduating, Kay, you moved out to Breckenridge for the ski season. Although I will say it was a short season because, but two or three months into it, I broke my ankle and had to move back to Kansas city to get my op my ankle operated on because of insurance reasons, still under my dad’s insurance at the time after the operation.
And I moved back to Jeff, lived with my mom for a while, about six months. In fact, a while my ankle healed up while I was in jail. I got a temporary job. I’m at a young lady named Alyssa. She was just graduating from central, Missouri state university. She was also trying to get back up to Kansas city. And so we moved up while up there right after I get up there, actually, I ran into an old college buddy of mine named Klaus, and he was working at sprint or the company formerly known as sprint.
And turn my resume. And so I was able to secure a job with sprint and it was there for about four and a half years while there I worked on my, uh, my master’s at university of Missouri in KC and um, after about four and a half years and finishing my MBA, I left sprint and moved into my brother’s part, man, who lived in Manhattan beach, Redondo Promosa beach, California.
He let me sleep on his couch for about six months while I was getting myself, get my feet underneath me. Um, lived out there for about five years before moving to Bartlett in 2015, which is where I live today with math, Megan and Becky.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, thanks for the quick fly by. I’d like to go back though.
Um, my recollection was when you were growing up, you had a younger sibling. Yeah,
Jeremy Meinhardt: Ryan that’s who I moved. Thats who’s couch. I was on for a while. He’s about three and a half years younger than me. He’s actually just, he wasn’t LA until about six months ago. Just moved to.
David Hirsch: And, um, is your dad still alive? What does he do or what did he do for a living?
Jeremy Meinhardt: Sure. So my dad lives in Sarasota, Florida, and he actually worked at a United telephone. He worked the larger part of his working career professional career there. So it just so happened to be that we both worked at sprint, but that’s what he did that a large portion of his career’s work in United or telecom.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So how would you describe your relationship with.
Jeremy Meinhardt: I think it’s good. We talk every two to three weeks. Um, last time I spoke with them, I should say the last time, probably within the last six or eight weeks. And one of our conversations was trying to get us or planning. A trip to go hike a little bit of the Appalachian trail meeting in Georgia.
My brother coming in from Utah, me from here in Illinois and him from Florida meeting in Northern Georgia, I guess is where the trail head is and try to do some hiking there. We had some, a couple of stories doing some hikes as a family. Uh, he and my brother and I did a grand canyon river rim. Gosh, about 10 or 15 years ago as well.
So trying to do a reunion tour of that, even though we’ve got some years under our, on our heels.
David Hirsch: It sounds like your dad must be pretty fit if he’s doing, uh, things like that with you guys. Yeah. I’d say
Jeremy Meinhardt: he’s a pretty good shape for his age, for sure.
David Hirsch: Um, I’m wondering if there’s an important takeaway or two, when you think about your dad, um, that you’ve tried to incorporate into your own fathering or something that sticks with
Jeremy Meinhardt: you.
Yeah. So, I mean, since we originally spoke to, I thought about it, I mean, growing up our family is very typical. I think the unit that it was, but I did have a couple of good memories that stick out for sure. Um, when I was growing up and we went to the ozone lake of the Ozarks a lot. My dad’s mother Nellie.
She actually, and I had a, a cabin down there as one of the first on the, on the lake of the Ozarks. And so him growing up down there, we were only about 30 miles from there being in Jeff city. And we would spend, it seems like every weekend in the summer down there. And he and my uncles. And my cousins, we were always out on the water.
And one of the things that I know he had the patience to do was teach me how to water ski. And as an adult, now I look back and having kids on my own, how hard it is to maintain patience sometimes with things that seem to be easy, but are really pretty complicated. And I remember him sitting in the water with me and my cousin and my uncle and just helping us get up on the water skis, um, both double Ana and slalom.
So it’s a, that’s one of my, one of my good memories and taken out of that would be just the patients that he had with me and kind of what I aspire to have with my kids as well, because, and I know I struggled with that at times, for sure.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, when I think about the four. Universal characteristics that all great dads possess, uh, patient is right up there at the list of the top four love, honesty, commitment would be the ones that rounded.
So you mentioned you went to university of Kansas. So your J Hawk. Um, I remember you got a degree in business and you talked a little bit about your career. What I remembered was you spent, uh, Uh, 15 or 20 years in medical sales. And then you’ve shifted gears more recently. And I’m wondering what motivated the shift and what is it that you’re doing
Jeremy Meinhardt: now?
Sure. So as you kind of let off at the onset, I worked for Edward Jones and I’m a financial advisor and I mean, I love managing money. Um, people will attest to that. I love being able to, um, make it, organize it, save it. Um, what I like about it is. Um, I think if people can get control of their finances and their budget, it allows you to free up time to enjoy the things that maybe bring more, more happiness in your life, which would be family and friends and experiences.
And I think it’s more difficult for some than others to, to really get a good grip of it and, and keep control of it. And that’s what I like about being a financial adviser.
David Hirsch: Excellent. So how long have you been an advisor with Edward Jones? Okay. And I’m sorta curious to know, um, how is it that you and magnet?
Jeremy Meinhardt: So we were at Kansas university of Kansas at the same time. However, we never ran into each other. Didn’t run in the same circles. So when I was out of Kansas and back from Breckenridge, I was working at sprint and one of my positions. I worked with a young lady named Jenny and Jenny was roommates with Megan and a couple of other folks.
And at that point we all kind of ran in same circles. We’re at the same places on the weekends. And so I had Jenny at some point had tried to set Megan and I up. And I don’t think either of us were really ready for it initially. But after a couple of years, we finally went out and ultimately that’s how we met, um, been together really ever since.
Uh, so going on. 1718, I guess, close to 20 years now, actually that we’ve been together, married a, the 16. That’s
David Hirsch: awesome. Thanks for sharing. Let’s switch gears and talk about special needs first on a personal level and then beyond. So out of curiosity, how did the spinal bifida diagnosis come about and what was your first reaction to that?
Jeremy Meinhardt: I mean, right now, when you talk about spinal before. I think, and I don’t know the statistics, but generally it’s fairly common for folks to know that that diagnosis is coming. So you have time to prepare for it and make decisions about how you’re going to prepare for. Prior to birth as a little different for Megan and I though.
So for the pregnancy with Nellie was very typical, meaning that there were no complications. And I would even say that the birth of Nellie went as planned and quick and easy. And I say that knowing that Megan’s going to disagree, that it probably was neither quick, nor easy, uh, relative to, uh, our first child who was, she was with labor labor with a little bit longer, for sure.
I feel like everything was, was good and you know it, and at this point, The attending physician had taken Ellie over to the table, whereas typically, which is typically done. Right? So the nurse, the doctor take over to the heated table where there’s a light there, checking out the, the baby it out and Ellie to make sure everything’s okay.
And the primary OB that we were seeing was not on call. So it was. And attending OB that we had not met yet or met before. And so really it shouldn’t be an issue, very nice guy and very competent guy, but not having any idea what was coming, I think was shockwaves for, for all of us. Right. So back to the table now where they’re looking at Lee and the nurse, again, everything is fine.
And, um, as time moves forward, you kind of expect, okay. Or do you bring the baby back over? We get to hold dally. Everything’s okay. But that’s not really what happened instead. What happened was the room seemingly, as I remember it got deadly silent because the doctor was looking at the nurse, the nurse was looking around and they kind of, um, motion to me come over very quietly.
Can you come over to the table? We need to talk to you. Um, I’m trying to explain to me in layman terms without any prompting or preparation, right. What was going on, which was that Nellie was born with spinal bifida, uh, L five S one. So the defect is that the very, very base of her. Um, but again, none of this means anything to me and I don’t think you could have explained it simply enough to make me understand what was going on or Megan to go on for.
So of course at that point, panic starts to set in as well between me and. Because we just don’t understand it fast forward a little bit. What happens is Nellie is taken into a, kind of a formal or informal ICU, if you will, because NOLA was born at one of the Northwestern suburb hospitals. They didn’t have the capacity to give her the treatment that was needed from that point going forward.
So at that point, the conversations turned into. Here’s what we are dealing with. Here’s what the situation is. It’s spinal bifida, but we can’t treat it here. We’re going to send you to our sister facility, which at that time it was Lutheran general. Meg of course, could not leave the hospital. So I followed Nellie in the car while she was in an ambulance and we went to Lutheran general where they had to close her back.
Right. Because what’s find a benefit is. And we can go into more detail, but really it’s a defect that leaves the spine open. Um, so it didn’t completely develop and there’s different stages or different types of it. But I’ll try to pronounce hers as my Liam NGO, Sealy is what hers was. So she had an opening in her back and her fine, never our spine never fully formed because of it leaving nerves exposed.
Um, so we were. Lutheran general for believe about 28 days. But that first night was, was the most tenuous one clearly because I was there by myself. I didn’t know what was going on. Megan was left with her sister at the hospital, at the delivering hospital. Um, we were in contact to some extent, but at the back, at least at the top, the point when I was at Lutheran general with Nellie.
Uh, 12 years ago, the NICU is in the far corner of a hospital. Um, cell reception was not good. So the communication was, was not that good at that point. Again, this is 12 years ago. Um, but I never forget, you know, I, as I’m coming around the corner, pacing around the hallway and I look up and I see my brother-in-law Kurt there, and I’ll never be able to repay him or thank him enough for showing up because he really helped get me through.
You know those hours that I was there all by myself. And I love the guy because everybody’s eyes like a brother to me. Um, so I, so that really helped me get through that first day. Um, was there that night, um, Sunday that, uh, that next day Megan was released and she was able to come to the hospital to Lutheran general.
And that’s where we spent, like I said, about the next 28 days. Um, one of us, both of us in some shape or form at there in the NICU with her. Uh, and then after 28 days and three surgeries to close her spine and a shot placement. Uh, other procedures, I’m sure I’m forgetting about she was released. Uh, and we were able to take her home, but it was a, it’s definitely a trying time.
Not helped by the fact that we did not expect it for sure.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, it sounds like you might’ve been blindsided. You didn’t know it was coming and. It sounds like a very precarious situation with Meg stall at the hospital, the delivery hospital, and then you shuttling over to Lutheran general with the baby.
And, uh, like you described what transpired. It’s just a lot. It seemed like a surreal experience.
Jeremy Meinhardt: It is, you know, It’s like the days we just don’t know, like you’re trying to learn all you can about what spine of, if it is. And it, dad point it pulling up what you can read on the internet and who’s got it that you might know of out there and what it means, but you don’t know what it means because it’s something different for everyone.
Even if the defect is in the same spot, it’s something different for everyone. And so. The good thing about it is generally, you know, chil children, spinal bifida, you know, there’s dark days and two weeks. And months after that. But, you know, as you get into a later in a, a better part of a year and the years that follow things are good, you know, life is good and Nellie’s healthy.
And, um, but you’re right. It’s a very precarious situation. Not knowing, not knowing what’s coming.
David Hirsch: So if you can put yourself back to that first six months or so, what were some of the concerns or fears that you and Meg had at that point?
Jeremy Meinhardt: Well, I mean, it’s a good question, David. It’s like, you don’t know what you don’t know.
So you have six months to talk to doctors about SB. You’ve got six months to talk to other people that are working with SB. You’ve got six months to talk to nurses that, uh, that know about SB and read about it, but the concerns were, were interesting. You know, I initially my biggest concern was mobility.
Megan’s concern was calling me to. And so you try to box in really what you should and should not be focusing on really, but it’s just the overall health in general. It can’t be one specific thing you’re worried about. It can’t be mobility or calling a function it’s just overall general health, but you find myself and now Megan and I both found ourselves just focused on specific little things.
Like I said, mobility, cognitive, functioning, those types of things. And you spend all your time wondering what, if you know, what if we would have known, um, could we have done. In utero surgery, would that have changed things? You ask yourself to all of these things.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, you can’t go back. You can’t change.
What’s transpired. You can only go forward with the situation you have, so you don’t want to spend too much time. And the coulda woulda shoulda you know, situation. And, um, I’m wondering if there’s any in meaningful advice that you got early on that help, which our minds at ease or give you some sense of direction with this.
Jeremy Meinhardt: mean, the one thing I remember and it’s out a few years now from, from those times we were just talking about was, was when we were getting Ellie to ready to go to preschool and one of our early intervention. Folks from the state came in and was talking and it’s like, look, is your kid. You know, what’s better for her than, than anyone makes sure that you’re trusting your instinct and you’re doing what you can to get her the services and the things that you need or that you think she needs.
And so that’d be the one thing that comes to my mind as you ask that question is trust your gut as a parent and move forward all of the time. Um, based on what you know, to be. Even if it may turn out to appear to be burdensome on the folks you’re asking to do it, trust your gut and do it because, um, even if it’s burdensome, if it’s nonsensical, it doesn’t matter.
Cause it’ll be forgotten as soon as you ask the question, if it doesn’t make sense, but so just trust your gut and move forward.
David Hirsch: so not to focus on the negative, but what have been some of the bigger challenges that you faced and now he’s faced for that matter?
Jeremy Meinhardt: Well, I mean, some of the challenge for Nellie really is its mobility, right? Bladder control and mobility are the two biggest challenges that face children with SB are the most common.
I shouldn’t say the biggest, but the most common, um, It’s what she knows. So she, she just moves forward with it. She’s got a great personality. Things do not stop her. She’s evil, she’s evil, or able to shake things up, um, any challenges or disappointments or frustrations off very easily and, and move forward.
And so I think that, and I have done a good job of kind of instilling that in her and pushing her. Holding her accountable to grow and develop like we would our son back. And, and maybe that goes back to your question earlier about what advice we would give. And that would be to not overcompensate for any of the challenges that these kids have, because.
My opinion Megan’s opinion only. Um, so take it how you will this news, but ultimately the goal for kids should, for them to be reached their full potential, whatever it may be. And again, it’s going to vary by kid, but our far expectation for Nellie is full, independent, you know, out there moving and living on her own.
And it’s very difficult sometimes to discipline your kids just in general, because you love them. But with Nellie, she has to work harder for things. You really have to discipline kids and hold them accountable because you want them and push them really, I guess, is the best way to describe it. Push them to where, you know, or you think they can be because they deserve it.
They deserve to reach their full potential. And that’s the only way is if you just continue to push them, um, you’re gonna have folks out there that, that see them and want to give them extra help or extra support. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s good. But it can’t be the expectation. The kids have to have expectations of themselves that they’re going to achieve things.
I’m not sure if I’m describing it the right way, but, um, push these kids. Push.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, if I can paraphrase what you’ve said, uh, you want to have the same high standards, trucks, dictations you’d have for your son as you do for your daughter. And it seems counterintuitive at some level to hold your daughter who might be a little bit more frail, or it might be more challenged to the same high standard, but.
If you overcompensate using your own phrase, uh, what you’re in effect doing over the long-term is for other handicapping or, and I think what I heard you say is that you don’t want to further handicap your child by overcompensating.
Jeremy Meinhardt: So by the 90 day, that’s exactly it give them every opportunity to use.
David Hirsch: So I’m sort of curious to know what impact Nellie’s situation has had on her older brother.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Well, I mean, Megan and I talk about this for sure. I mean, I mean, ultimately I think what it does for back and it’s done for Megan and I, it just makes it person, you makes you more empathetic and understanding.
And open-minded to things you give yourself a different perspective on way to see things in life, you know, because you do have to make a commendations in certain situations for, for just to, to do things. So, um, I would say it’s just made us a more empathetic and open-minded individuals that for Beckett’s for sure.
I think he’s going to grow up a better person because of it.
David Hirsch: Yeah. Well, how could you, not in most cases, um, he’s the older brother anyway, right? You know, one of the responsibilities, whether we want to admit it or not. Cause I had a younger brother is that we’re supposed to look out for. And, uh, you know, you have that experience, you know, you had a younger brother as well, and I know that you probably mixed it up with your younger brother, you know, when you’re younger, just like we all do.
But, uh, you know, if you’re an older brother to a sister, right. You know, there’s this sort of, Hey, I need to look out for and make sure that, you know, nobody, um, steps on her or takes advantage of her or says something that you know, would be inappropriate. So I think there’s a certain level of maturity that goes along with being an older sibling.
Beyond when you’re an older sibling to a brother or sister that has some different
Jeremy Meinhardt: challenges. Yeah. I mean, it’s important too. Cause we have, we talked back about it as well. I mean, he’s dealing with things that other kids and his friends with siblings are not going to have to deal with and that’s just part of it, you know, that’s, this is our family dynamic, but he’s a phenomenal kid too.
So, um, but yeah, he’s going to grow up better because of. Excellent.
David Hirsch: So I’m thinking about supporting organizations and I’m wondering what organizations have you and your family relied on?
Jeremy Meinhardt: Sure. Right. I mean the spinal bifida association LMOS find a buffet association has been in our lives ultimately since, uh, probably be even before year one.
Um, Megan was more quickly to adopt onto it. And that’s because of the chat groups and the, the ability to, to meet with folks that are in similar circumstances and for our, from our perspective, that would be other parents that have children was find a bifida. And it really is. For anybody that’s dealing with any challenges, you know, find an organization that is related can relate to what you’re going through at this point and talk to people about it because it helps immensely because it ha as a parent, it helps you understand one.
You’re not the only one going through it as your kids get older. They’ll see. They’re not the only ones going to. But it also can help you accomplish things without maybe failing as many times edit because you get to talk to people that have gone through and, and work through the same challenges and situations that you have.
And so the ISB is, has been a big part of our lives the entire 12 years. And I anticipate that it will.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, thanks for sharing. And I’m wondering if there’s any other organizations that have played an important role in your family or on, yeah, I
Jeremy Meinhardt: mean, ultimately when I think of the organization’s evolved, it’s our family unit both extended and direct as well as the ISP.
Those are the two that it really helped out. What I will do is give credit also to the, to the school district. Um, they have been, they have been unbelievable in their support. Um, both emotionally and structurally for what Nellie’s been able to accomplish. We feel lucky to have had, and continue to have the individuals within the school district that are helping Nellie helping make and make her life better making everyone’s
David Hirsch: lives better.
Are there any other organizations that have played an important role? Yeah, and
Jeremy Meinhardt: I would be remiss not to talk about. It’s called synergy, which is a blend of Western new page and Northeastern DuPage, special recreation associations, Nellie plays, wheelchair basketball through there, and it serves very much the same purpose that the ISB does at least from a personal standpoint.
And that is that it brings you together with other parents, not just with SB, but other parents dealing with other challenges with their children. But again, it also brings children together. And brought Nellie together with whatsoever with her best friend tests. And it’s just, it’s a great way for kids to see.
Not only that, they’re not the only ones that have struggles, but you watch the older kids that are part of these wheelchair basketball tournaments and what they’re accomplishing and what that leads to beyond even the special rec associations and into college athletics. Um, Olympics and roads, you get it.
They get to see what can be achieved and there really should be no limitations given, um, the challenges that they’re facing. So, um, Natura and, and the wheelchair basketball program and synergy has been a phenomenal, phenomenal thing for, for us and all the kids in.
David Hirsch: That’s fabulous. Thanks for sharing. It reminds me that, uh, there’s a number of dads in the network that have a child older child with spinal bifida.
And one that comes to mind is, um, Greg Chalmers. Who’s the dad. And then his son, Ryan, who’s probably 30 something now. And, uh, he was diagnosed from the time of birth with spinal bifida as well. Lots of surgeries, crazy situation, but they dropped him off at school. At the university of Illinois and they didn’t see him for like seven years.
I mean, they even around the holidays, but you know, he was totally focused on being independent wheelchair basketball, and he just really thrived in athletic environment. Not all kids are athletic, obviously, but. To your point. You don’t want to put any cap on your child, right? You just want to expose them to as many things as you can find somebody that they’re enthusiastic about.
And it’s not so much the competition, but they realize that there’s other people like themselves and they have to compensate. We all have to compensate for whatever our shortcomings are and some are a little bit more obvious than others. So, um, I’m hoping that, uh, that those experiences that now he’s getting.
You know, accumulate, build a foundation that she can operate from for another.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Well, you mentioned a nice thing to David’s it, isn’t just, all those things I mentioned are fantastic, but it also is that sense of competitiveness and it kind of gets a, that goes to the teamwork and it gets them involved because there aren’t as many opportunities or at least there are seemingly aren’t as many opportunities for kids with special needs to get involved, but they’re out there.
They’re just not as obvious. They’re a little more difficult to find and you might have to travel a little bit farther to get. Luckily that we all live in Chicago land. And so there’s four different, uh, basketball programs. And, um, these, the, the different, special rec departments, they have so many things beyond basketball that kids can get involved with.
Typically basketball is where they start and then they kind of evolve into to hockey or track or archery, all of these other things. That are out there. So they get the same sense and that same benefits from it. Um, kids that are typical kids working in your typical sporting programs as well. It’s, uh, it’s a huge benefit again for the kids and the parents, because it’s great to just meet with people that you have shared experiences.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, you don’t know what it’s going to lead to. And that’s what the exciting part of it is. And not to harp too much on the, uh, Chalmer situation. But, uh, Ryan got involved with something called state focused, which is this scuba diving program. And you’re thinking, well, geez, how could a kid with spinal bifida or a young adult with spinal bifida go scuba diving, or it just seems so far fetched now.
Uh, typical people that have never been scuba diving anything more than snorkeling. Right. It seems so complex and it is, but it isn’t right. And, uh, again, not everybody has an interest in doing water sports. There’s a different, uh, element of risk there too. But, uh, it’s just another reminder that, you know, never say never, right?
There’s a lot of possibilities out there.
Jeremy Meinhardt: You mean kids, kids teach me that all the time. They both back in LA make me better, more patient and, um, to see what they’re able to do. But, yeah, I agree with you a hundred percent,
David Hirsch: Dave. So I’m thinking about advice and I’m wondering if there’s any additional important takeaways that come to mind when rising a child with a special needs.
Jeremy Meinhardt: The one thing that I’m really big on, and I’ve kind of touched on it earlier. Get out there and get involved. If you’re an adult living with special needs and you have the capacity to do it. And if you’re a kid living with special needs and, and have the capacity, do it, go out there and find something to do and get engaged in, in the community.
And this theoretically speaking, I believe that, uh, a lot of the big challenges with getting kids special needs. Is the parents, the parents coming to grips with the fact that they need to do it. It took me time to come to grips with the fact that Nellie may be in a wheelchair, maybe in a sticks, those teams are difficult.
And as a parent, um, once you come to grips with that, then you have to understand that it’s going to be additional work. You might have to drive a little farther to get to sporting events. You might have to look a little harder to find those, those activities that you can do, but they’re out there. But, um, and even if you don’t want to do it for yourself as a parent, do it for the kid, because it will make all the difference in the world.
We’ve met kids that are not involved versus kids that are involved. I mean, the attitudes are different and that’s, again, I think this with typical kids and kids with special needs, get your kids involved. Um, but with respect to this conversation, find something to get them engaged and meet other friends, hang out and, uh, just be part of a.
David Hirsch: Yeah, great advice. Um, get involved, stay engaged and make the extra effort. You’d like to think that that’s what all parents are doing, whether they have full right to vocal kids, but you know, life gets busy. Life can be stressful. Sometimes there’s some financial aspects involved and you know, it’s like you’re making an investment, right.
Not to bring it back to what we do occupationally, but you know, you can look at it as an expense. Right that it’s, you know, something that’s costing money or you can look at it as an investment. Right. And I think the most important thing to do as parents is to invest in your kids and whether it’s through education or out through extra cooker activities, we’re just providing them with the resources.
They need to become the best person that they can become. So thanks for sharing. So I’m sort of curious to know why is it that you’ve agreed to be a mentor father as part of the social fathers now.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Well, it’ll kind of not to be redundant, but I really, I want people to, to understand that, um, as new parents or maybe parents that have been doing this for a while, that you, there are others that are going through similar situations.
And I want to make sure that if somebody needs to talk to someone, they can do that. And I know you’ve, you’ve worked with many different folks treating many different disease states. With many different needs, but, um, if they’re specific to SB, please let me know if it’s just about dealing with, uh, the challenges that come with having a special needs.
Let me know. I’d love to love to talk to you or listen to you because, um, I I’ve been through it for 12 years now and the good far outweighs any of the challenges. So that’s why I want to be a part of it is so that I can help others cope and learn. And to be honest with you, I would like to learn from others because I know that my experiences are mine.
So if anybody has anything to share to help me out, I’d be glad to do that as well.
David Hirsch: Yeah, well, we’re thrilled to have you. Um, and it’s interesting that you are reflecting on the fact that, uh, you’re volunteering to be a mentor, making yourself available to maybe a younger dad or younger family. And you’re acknowledging that, Hey, I’ve only been at it for 12 years, right?
We’ve got a lot of milestones that we’re going to be crossing as a family ourselves. And you know, it wouldn’t be shocking to me that. You know, you would connect with a dad who has not just 12 years of experience, maybe 15, 20, or twenty-five years of experience. Right. And give you a little bit of a preview of what what’s sort of on the road ahead, and maybe, you know, You’re serving both roles, right?
You’re being a mentor to some younger fathers on you’re being a mentee, or you are a mentee, you know, to some other fathers who have a little bit more experience than yourself. So glad that you’re part of the group. Thanks for being on the team. Of course. Thank you. Let’s give a special shout out to our mutual friend, Matt Larson, executive director at Illinois spinal bifida association for helping.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Yeah, Matt’s a fantastic guy and he’s the perfect person to be running. The ISB is a passionate about it. He’s forward thinking and he’s going to continue to grow the organization and to fulfill the mission, which is just to help any children, adults, families, and caregivers that are living with, uh, with let’s find a bit of a condition.
I mean, um, he’s doing a fantastic job. It’d be trouble without him. For sure.
David Hirsch: So is there anything else you’d like to say before we wrap
Jeremy Meinhardt: up? Just to go back to what I’ve said a few times is if you’ve got a kid that’s living with some type of a disability in spite of it, but in this perspective, get them involved to the capacity that you can and that they can, because it will make all the difference in your life, their life and your family’s lives.
I believe that to be the truth.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, it’s like location, location, location, right? You keep reinforcing. The, one of the most important points is to get involved and stay involved. So if somebody wants to learn about Illinois spinal bifida association, synergy, this special rec organization you made reference to, or just to contact you, what’s the best way to go about to.
Jeremy Meinhardt: you can reach out to me. I’m at Jeremy K firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach out to, or go to the Illinois spinal bifida associations website, and it’ll direct you to Matt and, uh, lead you to allow you to get in contact with him and anyone at the organism.
David Hirsch: Excellent. Well, be sure to include those in the show notes, Jeremy, thank you for taking the time and many insights as reminder, Jeremy has just one of the dads who is part of the special fathers network mentoring program for fathers raising a child with special needs.
If you’d like to be a mentor father or are seeking advice from a mentor father with a similar situation to your own, please go to 21st century dads dot. Thank you for listening to the latest episode of the special father’s network podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation as much as I did, as you probably know.
The 21st century dads foundation is a 5 0 1 C3, not for profit organization, which means we need your help to keep our content free. All concerned. Would you please consider making a tech selectable country? I would really appreciate your support, Jeremy. Thanks again.
Jeremy Meinhardt: Thanks David. Enjoyed it.
Tom Couch: And thank you for listening to the dad to dad podcast presented by the special fathers network.
The special father’s network is a dad to dad mentoring program for fathers raising children with special needs through our personalized matching process, new fathers with special needs children connect with mentor fathers in a similar situation. It’s a great way for fathers to support. Go to 21st century dads.org.
David Hirsch: And if you’re a dad looking for help or we’d like to offer help, we would be honored to have you join our closed Facebook group. Please go to facebook.com groups and search dad to dad. Also, please be sure to register for the special father’s network biweekly zoom calls held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month.
Lastly, we’re always looking to share interesting stories. If you’d like to share your story or know of a compelling story. Please send an email to David@twentyfirstcenturydads.org.
Tom Couch: The dad to dad podcast was produced by couch audio for the special father’s network. Thanks again to horizon therapeutics who believe that science and compassion must work together to transform lives.
That’s why they work tirelessly to research, develop and bring forward medicines for people living with rare and rheumatic disease. Discover more about horizon therapeutics at horizontherapeutics.com.