Aaron Mount appears to be your typical 20 year old college student. During summer vacation, you may find him at Glen's Market where he works as a cashier. Simply put, he is an "all American" young man, who happens to cough a lot. That may be your only clue that Aaron is extraordinary. Odds are Aaron won't live to be as old as you do, but he's far from conceding defeat to his Cystic Fibrosis . As Aaron explains "I try to treat everyday as fun so I don't have to think about this disease that I have. After a while I kind of don't think anything about it, I just see as being normal because I deal with it."
Aaron's positive attitude is contagious. It comes from within, and as his dad, Dick explains it radiates out, "he has a great sense of humor, he just envelopes you with his sense of humor." Terri his mother agrees, "Aaron has just been the delight of our life, it's been like the perfect thing for us."
While Aaron's addition to this family has been perfect, it came to be out of a tragic loss. You see Aaron might not be here today, if it wasn't for the passing of a brother he never knew. Sean Mount, Dick's first son died in 1992 from Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 24. Sean battled the disease as a kid, often being too sick to do what others did. As an adult, he moved to a California and became a spokesperson for Cystic Fibrosis. Sean worked tirelessly to raise funds to help battle the disease that ultimately took his life. Dick remembers "It's a gradual thing and it gets worse and worse as time goes by and the ultimate cause of death is pneumonia."
For years, Terri and Dick had thought about adopting a second son, but had always put it off in order to take care of Sean. After years of silence, the pair reached the same conclusion at the same time. Terri explains "Sean died in December, and we went to a memorial in California in February and we were coming back in an airplane, and Dick looked at me and said "you know what maybe we should rethink about that adoption idea." I said it's so funny that you mention that because I had torn out of the yellow pages the adoption agencies in California. The really bizarre twist is that we found out that after Sean had been gone for a little while, that he had named us in a will, and the proceeds from that will paid for the adoption of Aaron. So it was just like it was meant to be."
Even following the death of Sean, Terri and Dick, hardly paused to welcome another infant son with CF into their home and their hearts. When I asked how they were able to overcome the heartbreak so quickly, Terri said "I don't think we deserve hero buttons for what we are doing, what we do is what we feel comfortable with. I don't think of Aaron as my son that has Cystic Fibrosis, I think of Aaron as my son."
This year Aaron will pass a milestone celebrating his 21st birthday, while his parents celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. With a smile on her face Terri remembers the night they met. She says "it was just like love at first sight. It was deep friendship and love right then and its never stopped. He is my very best friend; it's been tremendous fun, lots of laughs, and lots of love."
For a couple so selfless, it only seems fitting that their anniversary present would be for others. The gift they want the most is awareness. Their anniversary party they have planned is actually fundraiser for the fight against the disease that has shaped so much of their lives. It's motivation isn't lost on Aaron who says "I know they are trying to recognize me as someone who has CF, and my pasted-away brother Sean, and other people who have this disease and have to fight everyday and deal with it, all the non stop hospitalizations, so it means a lot that they are trying to put their focus on someone else other than themselves.
The Mount's are hosting a benefit concert to fight Cystic Fibrosis at Little Bohemia in Traverse City. The event takes place on June 4th from 5 to 8 pm. Jazz legend Benny Poole has agreed to perform, there will also be free appetizers and raffle prizes.