Chicago's Big Shoulders

This post is part of The Heart of Chicago Series that will be running on South of I-80 for the month of March. This post is written by Kerry Lynch. She is a mother I truly admire and someone I am so honored to have here today.

By Kerry Ryan Lynch

Happy Happy 177th birthday to you, Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders, and how lucky my family is to know just how big those shoulders are.

I was born and raised on the south side of this beautiful city, and minus a four year stint in Iowa City for college, and a two year stint in Munich, Germany for a career opportunity, its been the city that has held my heart for 30 plus years.

In December 2011, my love of Chicago and its residents grew more than I thought possible, as I watched them come together to support my family. The phrase, "it takes a village to raise a child," is taken seriously around here. The kindness, love, concern, and generosity is genuine, and I have been told by friends around the world that they have never seen or heard of this in the cities.

My Mary Cate was born on December 8th, 2011, and gave us the surprise of our life when we learned she was born with a very rare syndrome, Apert Syndrome. Her fingers and toes were fused, coronal sutures fused, and we found out a myriad of effect this craniofacial syndrome would have on her life both physically and developmentally. It was terrifying.

The beautiful Mary Cate Photo courtesy of Kerry Lynch

The beautiful Mary Cate
Photo courtesy of Kerry Lynch

The night Mary Cate was born, we sent out an email to family and friends to inform them of her diagnosis, and we told them, "Please do not feel sorry for us, we will be ok", and through all of the emotions we faced that day and the days to come, we knew that to be true. We would be ok, because we knew we were lucky enough to live in this amazingly supportive city; this city of big shoulders.

Within hours, we had months worths of dinners setup for our family, we had Christmas decorations put up around our house, we had hundreds of emails from friends, family and and even complete strangers giving us doctor recommendations or putting us in touch with families in similar situations.  The emotional and financial support pouring in from our fellow Chicagoans was overwhelming, and we are continually amazed each day by just how much this city and these residents care, really and truly care.

Mary Cate and her new sister, Maggie. Photo courtesy of Kerry Lynch.

Mary Cate and her new sister, Maggie.
Photo courtesy of Kerry Lynch.

Lately, we have had the honor to be invited to many Chicago area school from Beverly to Orland Park, Wheaton to Franklin Park; teaching hundreds of local schoolchildren about accepting differences, and what choosing kind is all about, so we now have the privilege of seeing how the next generation of Chicagoans are just as loving and supportive as the generations before. We feel truly blessed that this wonderful city has embraced our daughter and our family, and that "My Mary Cate" seems to have become "Chicago's Mary Cate."

Kerry Ryan Lynch is a nurse, wife, mother, and founder of My Mary Cate and the Apert OWL (outreach with love). If you have the chance to meet or talk to Kerry or her family for even a moment you will see the wonderful people they are  If you would like Kerry to come and talk to your organization or school about "choosing kind" visit My Mary Cate on Facebook

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If you liked this post, you may also like: Sweet Home Chicago as Told by a Southern CalifornianThe Bonds of Chicago are Unbreakable, World Class Chicago, The Chicago Connection, Chicago Has Your Back

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