Ethan Kadish and his mother Alexia smile for a photo
“Do you remember that feeling when you would dive into a pool, and make the descent to the bottom? Once you reached the bottom you would tap out with your hand, turn your body around, and push off with your feet, heading up to the surface of the water. Your dad and I have reached this bottom, and we are making our way back.”
Loveland, Ohio – On June 29th, 2013, everything changed for the Kadish family.
It’s been nearly five years since then 12-year-old Loveland resident Ethan Kadish was struck by a rogue lightning bolt. After CPR, an induced coma and months in the hospital, Ethan survived. He will most likely never be able to walk or talk again and requires constant medical monitoring and assistance. He has been hospitalized eighteen times for over 380 days. His medical expenses total over $1 million yearly.
Ethan would have graduated a week and a half ago.
But nobody from the Kadish family was at the Xavier Cintas Center. Ethan will be unable to return to Loveland in the foreseeable future due to his medical hurdles. Instead, he will spend the next three years attending a school for individuals with significant medical challenges.
In a letter to Ethan that parents Alexia and Scott Kadish wrote, they expressed the pain they felt in seeing their son miss a milestone that had been assumed five years ago.
“A realization washed over us that this was supposed to be the start of your senior year of high school. That was not going to happen.”
Five years after the disaster, the Kadish family has undergone pain and adapted to massive changes most could not even comprehend.
“Everything in our lives has to be scheduled; we’ve lost the ability to spontaneously go out, travel, etc., without significant scheduling of Ethan’s nurses to provide for all of his needs. When a nurse has to call off on a shift– we don’t always get a lot of notice– we have to drop whatever we have planned– work, social, sleep– to take care of Ethan. Most weekends we spend at home, as we only have nursing hours at night for Saturday and Sunday,” parents Alexia and Scott Kadish explained in a collaborative-response interview with Loveland Magazine.
The Kadish family said that, throughout the past five years of hardship, the local community has been exceptionally supportive. For example, Ethan’s former baseball coach, Carl Huether, has organized fundraising events including two Home Run Derbies and a whiffle ball tournament.
Similarly, in 2014, then fourteen-year-old Loveland resident Jacob Smilg invented a device that helps Ethan Kadish communicate. Kadish can now reply in yes an no to a group by means of a display over his wheelchair, allowing him to communicate with a group of people– something that he shows a strong positive reaction to.
Smilg spoke at TedxVienna, a conference for sharing innovative “ideas worth spreading”.
In addition, individuals have donated via Help Hope Live, generally in recurring donations. Individuals looking to help have also supported Team Ethan and the Kadish family by purchasing shirts, car magnets, hats, and hoodies. Although 90% of Ethan’s $1,000,000 of yearly medical expenses are covered, $100,000 remain for the Kadish family to cover.
Although it is unlikely that Ethan will return to the Loveland School District, he has been welcomed by the community monthly at the afterschool Partner’s Club– a Loveland organization dedicated to the inclusion of students with special needs.
“He really seems to enjoy being around his typical peers,” Alexia Kadish explained.
“I created a cocoon around myself, and I welcomed the quiet space to mourn it all. I “saw” you in every imaginable location”
Ethan Kadish would have graduated from Loveland High School with his friends and peers on Saturday, June 2nd.
Instead, Kadish now frequents Bobbie B. Fairfax, a school specializing in helping and educating students with significant medical challenges. He attends with his nurse whenever he is not in the hospital, and will likely continue until he is 21 years old– the school’s age limit.
“In sharing Ethan’s story, we find it serves as a healthy outlet, allowing us to express emotions that otherwise might remain bottled up inside us,” Alexia and Scott Kadish told Loveland Magazine.
Recently, the two shared what can only be described as a personal, painful, moving and honest letter to their son in a post titled Dear Ethan. They have graciously shared the letter with Loveland Magazine for publication.
How do I even begin to express the emotions that have been pouring through my body, mind and soul this entire school year? Let me begin with a story:
When you were born, on July 19, 2000, we were so excited to welcome you into our growing family. Not long after (I’m not kidding here), I was asked on a number of occasions, “When will you start Ethan in kindergarten?” “Really?” I thought, while looking at my beautiful weeks-, and later, months-old baby. I never thought of your summer birthdate as providing such interesting dialogue. Your dad and I figured we would wait and see. See if you were ready to start a kindergarten program at the age of five and one month, or if you would benefit from waiting until you were six. Regardless, that was years away. Even as a toddler/preschooler, we were barraged with stories of what others had done with their children, and why we should follow the same path; start you “early,” wait an extra year—whatever was recommended was the absolute “best” plan, so we were told. As we had done with your older brother, Zakary, we poured into you our hopes and dreams for a future filled with wonder and exploration. Fast forward a few years and we discovered that, while you were quite inquisitive, you were also able to sit and listen well to your preschool teachers, and, by all accounts, ready to begin kindergarten in the fall of 2005. You thrived in school, loved learning and participating in everything that came your way, and were on track to be part of the Graduating Class of 2018…
Well, life changed. Drastically.
For the first few years after your injury, we were predominately focused on the rehabilitation part of your recovery. School took a place on the back burner. Whatever it would take to help you make the most gains possible, that’s where our attention remained. Nothing could sway us from giving you the best chance at coming back to us. However, your mounting medical challenges kept you returning to the hospital, for weeks, and sometimes months, at a time. Each hospitalization would hinder any positive gains, and, more often, would compound the growing list of challenges. All we could do was continue moving forward, keeping our eye on the goal of helping you achieve “more.” Eventually, the more whittled away. It’s ok if you remain wheelchair-bound, we reasoned, plenty of people lead successful lives without the use of their legs. The same reasoning was used when we thought of your use of your arms. And your ability to speak.
Slowly, painstakingly at times, the days, weeks, months and years passed, with increasing returns to the hospital, bringing us to late-summer 2017. A realization washed over us that this was supposed to be the start of your senior year of high school. That was not going to happen.
How could we make room in our hearts for all that you had missed out on and all that you would be missing from this school year (and beyond)? I can tell you this, it has not been a positive year for me, emotionally. I did not deal with any of it very well. I retreated from friends and social gatherings, I created a cocoon around myself, and I welcomed the quiet space to mourn it all. I “saw” you in every imaginable location; participating in sport teams, theater, show choir, even walking across the school parking lot with friends. Senior pictures, applying and being accepted to college, school dances, youth group events, plans for being a camp counselor, the list goes on and on. I kept a low profile on social media, as it was too painful to see what friends posted regarding their “seniors.”
Loveland High School graduation took place a few days ago. You were not there. Neither were we, nor our extended family. In fact, your dad and I secured extra nursing coverage and took a 24-hour leave from the city. As heartbreaking as missing out on this milestone with you was for us, your dad and I wish great things to all of the Graduating Class of 2018—push yourselves beyond your wildest dreams, find where your passions lie, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
Our beautiful son, Ethan, you don’t need to worry about us. Do you remember that feeling when you would dive into a pool, and make the descent to the bottom? Once you reached the bottom you would tap out with your hand, turn your body around, and push off with your feet, heading up to the surface of the water. Your dad and I have reached this bottom, and we are making our way back. We have taken measures to strengthen our health, lift our spirits, and find the joy in the tiniest of things. We are emerging from this much-needed period of sadness. We love you and will always take care of you, assuring that you are able to reach as high as possible.
With love and strength, always and forever,
Mom and Dad
Despite the Kadish’s suffering, the Kadishes have found solace in the Jewish community of Cincinnati and through the Loveland community. However, despite the outpouring from neighbors and friends, Ethan Kadish’s medical bill is still enormous. Only a portion of his medical bill is covered by insurance, leaving the rest to be paid by parents Alexia and Scott Kadish.
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