Have you ever met someone that has made an incredible impact on your life? I am blessed to be able to say that I have. Now, I really don’t make a habit of blogging about my friends, but in this case I am going to make an exception. This person whom I speak of is Peter Thomas Senese.
Now I have already shared an interview with the ‘professional’ Peter Thomas Senese… best-selling author… unrelenting child advocate… and Founding Director of the I CARE Foundation, but I would also like to share a bit of how I see Peter… as a friend, a confidant and truly, one of my heroes.
It’s been a while since Peter approached me to do a review on his book, Chasing the Cyclone, and I am so grateful that I was given that opportunity. Not only did Chasing the Cyclone introduce me to international parental child abduction… something that I didn’t even know existed… but it also introduced me to an incredible individual.
In the time I have known Peter, he has demonstrated an impressive devotion to children in need and this is one of the characteristics that I admire most about him. Many of the things that Peter does, he does for others and the story I am about to share touched me so very deeply. The kindness and generosity that is Peter hit a new level in my eyes!
You see, a couple of weeks ago, Peter shared he was going shopping! I know… I was thrilled for him too! Seriously though, as funny as that sounds for me to share, I’m going to tell you why I am. Peter wasn’t shopping for himself, his partner or his son… he was shopping for gifts for children… children that he doesn’t know but already has a connection with that many of us will never totally understand. These children I am speaking of have been in the hospital over the holidays, battling cancer or some other serious illness. With his incredible shopping trip completed, he headed to visit the children at the local hospitals the day before Christmas. As well as sharing the gifts, Peter also shared magical stories about castles and dragons, mighty warriors and beautiful princesses. But there is another story that he would take with him and that is the story of someone who is very near and dear to Peter’s heart… or should I say a very big part of who he is in spirit… Peter Pan.
Peter has had his own battles with cancer and he’s not only a survivor, he’s a cancer CONQUEROR!! Approximately 15 years ago, he had his first of many battles with this terrible disease and it was then that he discovered his inner ‘Pan’… the fighter of the dragon – in this case, his cancer – that is trying to steal the life of the person fighting with everything they have. Peter has said that it is finding his ‘shadow’ that helped him fight and conquer his cancer. So when he goes to the hospitals to visit with these children, he literally goes as Peter Pan, taking with him his incredible strength, his stories and his love of life. Visiting with each child, and in some cases their family, it allows him to share what he has learned… and is able to help empower each child helping them find their inner ‘Pan’ to fight their dragon. I know the number of times Peter has shared his valuable experiences and knowledge in our conversations, so I also know that what he shared with the children will have been beyond remarkable!
Here’s a little bit of how Peter describes part of his visits and the children’s reactions:
“So you see, at 6 foot tall, and even at 47 years old, my body is very strong, those children that I visit in their Neverland, they don’t see some old guy bringing toys . . . instead, they see Peter Pan – fighter and conqueror of the dragon. And when I sit with them, and I tell them the stories of Pan fighting the dragon, of one Mr. James C. Hook, they always lean in . . . they understand. And I know they find their PAN . . . even if for a short time because God has other plans for them.
Life is filled with magic. And it becomes magical when you believe…”
And you know what? I know he is Peter Pan – in many aspects of life! Peter can help these children see the magic that life has to offer – he has taught me to be able to see it. And yes, he has taught me to believe!
I am not really going share a lot about the hours (and I do mean hours!) of volunteer work that he does with the I CARE Foundation as I have spoken of what the I CARE Foundation does in many posts on my blog and I encourage you to check them out. It’s an incredible organization that I support 100% and will be continuing to do so in regards to their work in protecting children from international parental child abduction. Suffice it to say that Peter made a promise – a promise to one day make a difference so that others would not have to chase the cyclone like he had to … and as you can read in my other posts, he is certainly keeping that promise.
A true humanitarian, he assists so many on a daily basis. Recently you would have found him helping to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, in which many of his friends and family members were devastatingly affected. He will always be the one to step up, lend a hand and do whatever he can to help out… and guaranteed, it’s almost always done with a smile on his face!
To hear Peter speak of his son is a real treat. For those that have read Chasing the Cyclone, you should know the relationship between Peter and his son is something so important… and so treasured. When referring to his son, the love and pride in his voice, and his writing, is unmistakable… and I for one, love to hear the stories of the adventures that they share together. If you haven’t read Chasing the Cyclone, I highly recommend it. It is inspired by his experiences when his own child was parentally abducted. It’s an amazing thriller that keeps the reader so involved, it’s hard to put down. Something to note is that aside from the generous personal donations that Peter makes, all proceeds from the sale of his books and eBooks goes toward helping children and families affected by international parental child abduction through donations made to the I CARE Foundation.
I have shared many times on Mom-ology about the importance of friendships, not only in respect to my son, who is on the autism spectrum, but also in respect to myself… an autism parent. Friendships can be a challenge as it’s very hard to understand the demands and difficulties of living with autism every day. It is truly a situation where you find out who your true friends really are. Peter has not only been an amazing friend and confidant to me, he has extended his support to the autism community on many occasions… most recently after the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. He has not only taught me so many things about myself but also really what true friendship means…. never mind the hours of laughs we’ve had! Referring to my son as his ‘little buddy’, he has that love returned many times over from my son to his ‘buddy’ on the other side of the border.
I do wonder how one person can have so much room in their heart for all the love and kindness that he has, and yet he continues to take on new challenges, especially when there is a child in need. Would I go so far as saying Peter is a ‘hero’… yes, I sure would. My son and I frequently smile as we, many times, refer to Peter being out with his superhero cape on, fighting the bad guys… a.k.a. child abductors. What my son knows of what Peter does through the I CARE Foundation is that he helps children, and in my son’s eyes, that makes him a real-life hero!
So Peter, if you are reading this, just know how incredibly blessed we are to have you in our lives. Truthfully, I know that many others would feel the same way. Your strength and determination is inspiring! Your compassion and generosity is unparalleled! Simply put, the world is a better place because you are in it. You have helped so many families and children… some to the degree where it is safe to say that you have saved lives… you and the I CARE Foundation. Both you and your ‘Peter Pan’ spirit are truly amazing and yes, you are definitely a hero to me, your ‘little buddy’, and to so many others out there as well! Godspeed my friend!