Craig and Nancy Vernon lost the younger of their two sons on Christmas Day, and the grieving process understandably continues.
Drew Vernon was born deaf and blind, with a seizure syndrome that takes most children before their 10th birthday. Drew would have turned 19 this month.
As a column today shows, however, the story of Drew’s life isn’t about what obstacles he dealt with throughout his life but how he and the family dealt with them.
“He had a great life, and he lived,” Nancy said. “He loved people, loved his family, his dogs …”
And, with the help of Craig, Nancy and older brother Dylan, Drew Vernon learned to horseback ride, blossomed in a home-school and even learned a letter in cross-country from the Bethel School District.
“During his life, I got my bachelors, then my Masters degree, and I’m a year into PhD in education,” Nancy said. “We’d like to provide curriculum for teachers – take the regular class curriculum and modify it for the blind and deaf student.”
Along with Drew’s teacher, Sue Cozza, the Vernons bought a house in
Tacoma and converted every room but the kitchen and a bathroom into classrooms.
An advocate for her son, Nancy filed lawsuits against two school districts, settled one and, though the other was dismissed, was provided $120,000 a year for Drew’s education.
We learned so much from Drew. We’d like to pass it on for other children,” she said. “I’ve set up a scholarship for teachers. We want to offer the curriculum and, for districts, we’d like to help the teachers who are interested in learning.”