Real heroes don’t wear capes. Often they are regular people who have the courage to speak the truth. 

Graphic with black background that reads: 
Who is your... Unsung Hero
Nickie's Story. 
Images of super hero with Center for Family Involvement Logo. The words "unsung hero" in comic book cloud with orange behind it. Bottom left are outlines of people high-fiving with 3 stars above. Bottom right is a picture of Nickie with a heart at the bottom of the photo.

The Center for Family Involvement’s Co-Director and Director of the Family to Family Network Virginia Nickie Brandenburger shares:

“When I reflect on the early years of my son’s life, it is often a blur of phone calls, doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions and research. I spent countless hours organizing his medical care, communicating with his early intervention support coordinator and worrying about his future. I was also a professional in the field, working closely with families who had children with disabilities. I helped families organize medical appointments, therapy sessions, and conducted research on best practice and options. 

One day, I was talking with the mother of a young boy with whom I had worked for many years. We’d grown close and she was always appreciative of the support I provided their family. She was aware my son was receiving EI services and asked how he was doing. She listened intently while I updated her on his progress. She told me that she had always appreciated the support I had provided to her family as her son’s support coordinator. 

Then she paused, furrowed her brow and said, ‘Nickie, you need to remember to stay in your lane.’

Confused, I asked for clarification. She reminded me that I was not my son’s support coordinator. I was his mother. She gently expressed her concern that I was acting like his support coordinator instead of his mother. I suddenly realized  how accurate she was. I WAS managing his care and researching options. My son had a support coordinator who could help me with all of those tasks. I needed to take a step back and be his mother FIRST. I needed to enjoy those early years and celebrate the successes one day at a time.

Flash forward 15 years later and to this day her words ‘stay in your lane’ resonate. Whenever I feel overwhelmed about my son’s future, I remember the compassion and wisdom of her simple reminder to slow down and celebrate the successes and enjoy being a mom FIRST.”