I know all you want in life is for me, mom and my brother, Sam, to be OK and succeed in our chosen paths. You were always an involved parent. As a kid, you coached my soccer team and came to boys scouts with me, which included hiking and camping.
Around my sophomore year of high school, you could no longer do many of the activities we once did together. Physically, it was impossible for you.
So, instead of using sports to teach me lessons, you used your experiences, telling me stories about your life and the hurdles you have overcome.
My favorite story is about the start of your career. You have dyslexia. Your school placed you in a special education class, mostly offering life skills. People didn’t think you could be successful. Because you were different, it was hard for them to see your ability or potential. Frustrated with the situation, you only graduated high school because your parents begged the school.
Then, you went to BOCES, a technical school, where you received your electrical and plumbing licenses. From there, you went to work for Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense company. That’s where you and 14 others got together to try and find a way to play music through a satellite in space and hit cars at a moving rate.
An investor gave 100 million dollars in today’s money to the project. It was a gamble. No one knew if you all could make it work. But after several years, you did it. You were among the creators of the technology for Sirius Radio. Not bad for a guy who barely graduated high school.
You made me realize that even though I am different, I can still achieve in life. I, too, am dyslexic and I also was placed in special education. The state exams in New York were hard for me and I barely got through them.
When it was time for my Bar Mitzvah, I got very frustrated. Reading Hebrew with dyslexia was extremely difficult. I started to read Hebrew with english letters. When people told me that that wasn’t a real bar mitzvah, I felt discouraged. However, you encouraged me to continue, and I am glad I did. It showed me how to adapt to situations with confidence, regardless of criticism.
Ultimately, I became an advocate for dyslexia, speaking on capitol hill, interviewing President Obama and helping experts develop a test to more easily diagnose children with dyslexia.
I went to Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. After school, I worked in media. However, I decided to start a cleaning business, Windows By Jared LLC, and a non-profit, Simon Research Foundation, which raises money for research for Multiple Sclerosis. I created The Simon Research Foundation in honor of you.
In my sophomore year, when you stopped being able to play sports and go camping, it was because you were sick. You had back pain and started tripping over your own feet, and finally, your doctors diagnosed you with Multiple Sclerosis. Over time, the disease became more and more debilitating, but you never let it stop you from continuing your job as a VP for Sirius Radio.
When you couldn’t take the bus to Manhattan because it made you dizzy, you got a car service. When it was too much to work in an office, you started working from home, which significantly increased your productivity. You now use a walker to walk and a motorized scooter for long distances. Also, you wear a brace on your left leg, which keeps you from tripping over yourself.
Working is not easy for you. It takes its toll. By 5:00 pm you are tired, and by 7:00 pm you are in bed because your body shuts down. You have made enough money and you don’t need to work. But you keep pushing because you want to be able to give every bit that you can to me, mom and Sam.
Dad, I would not choose anybody else other than you to be my father. You have had some huge roadblocks, but you have faced them like a champion, going right through them. Yes, it has been scary. Yes, you have cried, but you never sat on the couch and said, “I’m done.” Even if the doctors and nurses told you it’s not possible to work, even when you have gotten terrible news such as more lesions on your brain, you have always figured out a way to make your goals happen. You do it for us, your family, because you want to make sure that after you are gone, we will be OK.
That’s why I am writing you this letter. I want you to know that whatever challenges I face in life, I know that I will always be OK. You showed me what it looks like to never give up, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And because you have continuously persevered, I promise to always find a way to do the same.
You are my hero then, now and always.
I love you, Dad.