A while back we went to a store down in the industrial part of town. While I was in the store, Brian and the kids drove around and went exploring. While out they ran across a really neat recycling company that recycles steel among other metal things. I vaguely remember mentioning to Brian that I thought it would be a very cool place to take pictures of our kids.
Fast forward several months. I had still been thinking about that awesome recycle place, and I remember seeing these giant metal balls. After Relief Society one day our lesson was on adversity, and the refiners fire. I immediately remembered the steel yard again, and I wanted to take Jackson's pictures on the pile of steel balls. He is enduring a great deal of adversity, and I knew the steel balls would have a symbolic significance to me- and hopefully to Jackson one day too.
Yeah, right. I knew that there is no way any company would let my little 5 year old out into their dangerous yard- especially to take pictures. But I wanted to ask anyway.
So, one day on the way home from the hospital we stopped at the recycling place. I didn't even know the name of the company, or that they had an official office. I just walked into the garage, and started saying "hello". Pretty soon a guy named Howard came out and asked if he could help me. I told him that I wanted to take pictures in their yard, and he said "we don't do that". I figured as much. I then pulled the whole "my kid has cancer" card, and his attitude immediately changed. He sent me to the main office, to talk to Lee- the Safety Supervisor/ HR Director.
Lee was incredible. He was understanding and compassionate, and he said that they would LOVE to have Jackson come for a visit, and they would give him a tour. Never in a million years would I expect the type of treatment that we got.
Two days after I asked we showed up a little later than our scheduled time, but they didn't care. The girl at the front desk greeted Jackson with a smile. She said "I've heard all about you!" She took us back and Lee met Jackson with a bright red manager's hard hat- customized with his name and everything. Then Lee took us back to Dan's office. Dan is the VP of Operations. Dan was genuine and kind, and happy to meet Jackson. They had a big pouch of treasures for Jackson and he gave Jackson a toy of one of the machines that Jackson was going to get to see later that day.
We all put on our hard hats, and we followed Dan and Lee out into the production yard. Over the next 2 hours we went on the most amazing tour. We met some amazing people, all of whom were fabulous with Jackson. They treated him like a king. Jackson got to ride in two different machines- one even had a claw on it like in the Toy Story 3 movie. We went to another location where they had lots and lots of the big steel balls (I found out later that they are called grinding balls). And Jackson got to have a ride on a train car puller as well as work another big machine that lifted the balls up with a huge magnet.
My good friend Mindy came with us to take some pictures of Jackson. I haven't seen any official pictures yet, but I got to peek at Mindy's camera on our way home and the tiny images brought tears to my eyes.
Dan and Lee were so kind. I find myself being overwhelmed with gratitude. It would have been so easy for them to turn us away. It would have been so easy to tell us 'no', but they didn't. They went way above and beyond for Jackson. They gave him VIP access to everything. They made him feel special. I mentioned to Brian when we were driving home that it felt like a Make-A-Wish sort of event.
The pictures of Jackson with his Beads of Courage, his central line, and his bald head will be pictures that I will cherish forever. They will be something that we can look back upon one day, and remember the trials, the difficulties, the stress and the strain that we all endured. They will remind me that through trials we can become stronger.