Atlantic Coast Conference mascots help greet children of fallen combat troops

Recently, I wrote about an organization that helps military families with grieving. They invited mascots from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to come to  Fort Myer military base in Arlington, VA to play basketball and just to hang out with the kids of those families. (Click here to view full story). 

Deck family, who was one of the families who attended the event, shared with me abhow an event like this can help them through grieving. Here is a excerpt from that story:

Maria Collins, vice president of the New York Life Foundation, said the event was an opportunity to carve out space to allow children just to be children.

“You have to be a kid and you have to enjoy life,” she said. “Unfortunately, when you lose someone, you will always remember them—and you will always feel that sadness, but sometimes you want to be taken out and just have a good time and be a kid. And they need to be kids and they need to enjoy themselves. And what a better way.”

This event was helpful to the Deck family.

Crystal Deck, along with her four children—Reese, 17, Madi, 15, Lexi, 14 and Sean 7—attended the event. Ten years ago, according to Deck, her significant other, Michael V. Johnson, who was a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy, died in Iraq. And her oldest son, Reese, suffers from “chronic malnutrition, encephalopathy, and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone).”

“Reese has a gastrostomy tube and he receives all of his nutrition via the tube,” said Deck. “He is fed a special medical formula over 12 hours each day. He takes very little, if nothing, via the mouth and his digestive system doesn’t work, so everything that he eats comes back up and he has difficulty using the bathroom.”

Yet, despite his multiple illnesses, Reese came to the event just to see the mascots and to play some basketball.

“It is good for us to come here,” said Deck. “It helps us to get away from everything [for a while]. [My kids] aren’t too impressed by many things, but these mascots seem to be showing them a good time.”

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