He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

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So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

These words from the 1969 hit song by The Hollies so aptly describe the beautiful relationship between 8-year-old Noah Aldrich and his brother Lucas. Last week an article in The Telegraph written by Elizabeth Grice provided a welcome respite from all the bad news going on around the world as it focused on the deep love and devotion between Noah and Lucas. 

The article describes how on a sweltering hot day in July Noah completed a triathlon while supporting his disabled brother the whole way. He did this not only because he loves his brother and wanted him to have the enjoyment of the experience, but also as a means of raising funds to build a children’s hospice in Idaho that will be named ‘Lucas House’ in honour of his brother. 

Lucas was born with lissencephaly (literally “smooth brain”), meaning that his cerebral cortex does not have the normal complex pattern of grooves, folds and wrinkles. Each child with this condition has a different spectrum of disabilities, including seizures and difficulties with swallowing. Some do not reach their teenage years. Alissa, the boys’ mother, says that while the news of his conditions was devastating, “we decided to make the most of his life for whatever its span, and of our own lives with him.”

Determined to take part with his brother in the triathlon Noah pulled Lucas in a dinghy 200m through water, no mean feat considering that Noah only learned to swim 3 months ago; for the three-mile cycling leg of the race, Lucas rode in a yellow and blue specially constructed trailer that Noah pulled and the final leg of the triathlon had Noah running for a mile while pushing Lucas in his buggy. 

Before taking part in this triathlon, the boys trained together for 3 months. Alissa says in an exclusive interview she gave to The Telegraph, “The boys definitely have a special bond. Though Lucas cannot speak, I knew from his facial expression, by the way he looked at Noah, that he knew he was part of something pretty special.”

To the family’s surprise, the story of the boys’ participation in the triathlon has gone viral and there has been much activity and promises of money and support for Lucas House on their website. 

Describing with pride the love between his two sons, their father Brian says that Lucas’ eyes light up when Noah enters the room. While Alissa and Brian have always treated Lucas as a full member of the family, they describe the love that Noah has for his brother as completely genuine. They see Noah as a boy who is “wise beyond his years and who knows about love and acceptance.” 

Earlier this year, Alissa gave up her job to concentrate on raising money to build a children’s hospice in their home town, based on Helen & Douglas House in Oxford, UK. “I’m just so inspired by Helen House,” says Alissa. “We want to continue the work locally by creating Lucas House, where children can come for respite or end-of-life care.”

For information and donations, visit lucashouse.org or facebook.com/lucashouseorg 

Read the full report here.

* Lyrics from ‘He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother’ written by Bobby Scott and Scott Russell  (1969)

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