The occasion was halftime at an NIT (National Invitation Tournament) college basketball playoff game at Madison Square Garden. The cute redhead in the photo on the court is Joe Linehan, 7, Berrie Center patient and a first grader in Ms. Narcisco’s class at William O. Schaefer School in Tappan, NY. That’s Joe too smiling on the Jumbo-Tron surrounded by friends and family.
Joe wasn’t even scheduled to play—but he was asked at the last minute if he wanted to fill in for an older boy who couldn’t be there. “There we were at Madison Square Garden, and before I could even turn around, he was ready to play, he was IN,” recalled his mom Tara. “But that’s Joe. Always up for the challenge.”
Last year, Joe, a precocious, happy-go-lucky, sports enthusiast received a diagnosis of T1D. “We always thought he was magnificent, but it’s as if diabetes has made him wise,” said Tara. “He has an understanding now that you have to do, what you have to do. And that’s life. I don’t think he’s ever said, ‘this is not fair.’ Once he asked me how long it (diabetes) was going to last and I had to tell him, ‘maybe the rest of your life.’”
Joe is an example, his mom says, of what can happen when the inner-strength of a child with diabetes and his outer support system are in near-perfect alignment. “We love his team at the Berrie Center,” she said, which includes, Diabetes Educator Courtney Sahn (“our point person and lifeline”) and pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Ileana Vargas.
“His school’s social education teacher, the school psychologist, the school nurse the classroom teacher, all say that for a child who has only been diagnosed 14 months, they are blown away by his outlook on life.”
Who inspires Joe to work and play hard? That would be San Francisco Warrior superstar Stephen Currie. “He’s a great basketball player, he has great shots, he practices really hard, and he’s on TV,” Joe said. Added Tara, “He’s just a normal 7-year-old.”