The recent addition of Dads in Action (DIA) to the Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California (HFNC) has been instrumental in encouraging our dads to connect, participate and learn from each other. While we worried how successful we would be (Would dads who didn’t know each other open up, share, or even show?!), we were driven by the knowledge that success, no matter how small, would still be success. After all, even in last meetings of our chapter’s previous DIA group three years earlier, we could still find beautiful stories of dads bonding with sons they had never before been alone with! It’s the impact an event can have on just one father and his child.
Taking this into consideration, HFNC set up a modest first event goal of 10 participants. To our surprise, within days we had more than 35 people say they were going! The response to our first event was so encouraging, and it told us two things: not only did dads in our community want and need to be connected, but they had an eagerness and willingness to learn and to share. During our first gathering, we covered topics as basic as day-to-day life raising a child with a bleeding disorder, preparing for camp, and participating in sports. We had a wonderful and very well-known inspirational story teller and author, Craig McLaughlin, join us and tell some of his wonderful stories of triumph and tribulation. Craig is a master storyteller and a very well respected member of the bleeding disorders community. After some of Craig’s stories, dads really started to open up and share both their own experiences and ask questions. This event was held at an Oakland A’s baseball game, and one of the topics discussed was how to prepare and deal with our child’s participation in sporting events.
As the father of a 2-year-old son with severe hemophilia A, one of my first thoughts when my son was diagnosed was that he would never be able to play sports. While I always envisioned my son learning to play music and create, I also saw soccer matches and Little League games in his future. That day, Craig taught me that my son didn’t have to be sidelined; he could play any sport he wanted – except football, of course. I know I wasn’t alone in my epiphany. One of the most amazing things at our first event was witnessing fathers not only learn, but also change their way of thinking about how to deal with their child’s bleeding disorder.
One father, in a matter of two hours, went from not knowing his son could be active to explaining to the group how happy and relieved he was to now understand his son could possibly play just like the other kids at his school. The same father was almost in tears when he said he didn’t know before that day that other families were handling their child’s bleeding disorder differently than his family. Hearing the different perspectives of fathers and what we have all been through was both eye opening and emotional. Hearing another father share intimate stories of injuries and bleeds his child has been through is so helpful and powerful to other fathers.
We are very thankful for HFA’s Dads in Action program and are proud to be a host site. We are seeing the added benefits in our local community, too, from increased attendance at our other events to more dads becoming friends within the community. Dads now have each other to talk to and understand the day-to-day battles we go through, together. We have a greater sense of purpose now that we have helped other fathers by sharing tips and coping strategies. We have laughed, cried, and even high-fived so many times. Not only have we made new friends, we have created a new community of dads within our local Northern California community. There is always someone we can go to for support, to help us turn those long stressful, nights into better days… Dads in Action has let us know it’s going to be all right!
Brent Mascorro, 41, is father to 2-year-old Lawson (Hemophilia A), and son-in- law to Robert (Hemophilia A with an inhibitor). Brent, Lawson, and Brent’s wife Julia live outside Sacramento, California. Brent and Julia are both active volunteers and fundraisers for both the Hemophilia Foundation of Northern California and the Central California Hemophilia Foundation. Brent is an outdoor enthusiast and encourages kids and families in the bleeding disorders community to participate in outdoor activities.
Dads in Action and Mom in ActionÂ are programs HFA offers to families through our participating member organizations. These organizations work with HFA staff to decide what topics are of most interest in their local area. If you’d like more information on these topics or how to schedule a Dads in Action or MomsConnect meeting in your area, contact our staff at: firstname.lastname@example.org.[/glossary_exclude]