Zakary’s Speech to the Avon-Miami Lodge No. 542

Thank you all so much for inviting us to join you for your Annual Dinner, and also for making this generous donation to help my brother on the way to his recovery. Groups like this that have given such gifts make up the backbone of our support base, and we cannot truly express how thankful we are for the way that our local Jewish community has rallied around us in what is coming up on a year and a half since Ethan’s horrible disaster.
Ever since my brother’s incident, our family has struggled with coming to terms with what has happened. The fun, spry, (and as hard as it is for me to admit it) popular kid that we loved was taken away from us by a cruel twist of fate, by a freakish “bold out of the blue.” We had no idea—and are still largely uncertain—about the possible extent of his recovery and what the future holds for Ethan. But we do know this: day after day, week after week, month after month, we have seen improvements in his functioning and increases in his abilities. Through surgeries and therapies and treatments and doctors and a list of medications longer than a High Holiday service, he has shown time and time again that he has the strength and the resolve to persevere. Chazak, chazak, v’nit chazek. Strength, strength, and may you be strengthened. His strength has given us strength. His strength has given us hope. His strength has given us purpose and energy and the ability to help him on his road to recovery. It is owed to his strength that we are able to stand here today and say, “Look how far we’ve come.” And it is owed to his strength that we are able to stand here today and say, “Look how far we can still continue.” Our promise—Ethan’s promise—to you is that he will continue to recover and improve and work hard every day. Our promise—Ethan’s promise—to you is that one day, God-willing, he will stand here before you and thank you all himself for the support you have given to him and his family. We all look forward to that one day and it is approaching rapidly.
The past 16 months have been filled with trials and tribulation, but also with reward and recovery. We have been on a rollercoaster of events, and at times it seems that the ride is out of control and impossible to manage. Your kindness, your support, your generosity are the forces that combine to keep us on this ride and stay the course. No matter how shaky the ride gets, you hold us on. No matter how scary the next loop seems, you comfort us. No matter how death-defying the next hill appears, you provide us with the breath that gets us down the slope and into the next rise. We cannot express our gratitude enough for this invaluable support that you give us. I thank you—my family thanks you—for your contribution, and the strength and hope it represents for Ethan’s future.
Zakary Kadish