Note from an MCM staffer: This article is currently featured on the International FOP Association website. This is Zip’s story.
When you ask 6-year-old Zip Gordon what he wants to be when he grows up, his usual response is “to be a football player.” But then there is a second part to his answer . . . “well, but since football is not a safe game for me to play because of my ‘special bones’, I want to be the commentator for the Claremore Zebras and sit up in the big box above the field!” The Gordon home has a Wii entertainment system and Zip is not only mastering Madden Football, but he can be heard energetically commentating while he plays!
Zip’s knowledge and love of sports is quite apparent. His mom Amy shared: “Just the other day, Zip grabbed my iPhone and asks Siri “which NFL teams are playing on TV tonight?” Not being able to read is not a barrier for Zip to gain the information he wants. He just uses a different way to get the information. This tenacity is a character trait of the entire Gordon Family.
When FOP made its uninvited entrance into the Gordon’s world on July 28th, 2011, it was devastating and turned their world upside down. But since that painful day of diagnosis, Amy and Jacob have not let FOP define who they are as a family. Yes, adjustments have had to be made because of Zip’s limited shoulder and neck movements, but they are learning new ways to do old things. Big sister Arlie has also had to realize changes as the whole family adapts to FOP. The Gordons simply have a “new normal” . . . and lots of creative tenacity.
Zip’s parents, Amy and Jacob Gordon, were high school sweethearts in Claremore, Oklahoma, and have been married 15 years. Their successful family car dealership was begun in 1946 by Amy’s great-grandfather. Four generations of family ownership is proof of a family who lives and works well together. When Zip’s FOP was diagnosed, the family decided to use their business as a conduit to raise FOP awareness and funds for the IFOPA.
In October of 2012, the first annual ZipperQ Fundraiser took place. Drawing tickets were sold for a red Dodge 1500 pickup truck, hundreds of people turned out, teams competed for the best BBQ, and $160,000 was raised towards a cure for FOP plus IFOPA programs. More than 2000 people attended ZipperQ 2 on October 2, 2013, with 22 BBQ Teams competing, a ton of great auction items and free fun-filled activities for Zip and all his friends. Over $114,000 was raised during this event, which included a Jeep drawing.
“It is a beautiful thing to see our community come together and help us in the brutal reality of FOP in Zip’s life. I have borrowed the term “Brutiful” to describe our community’s effort,” says Amy. That word, brutiful, was coined by a favorite blogger of Amy’s (Glennon Melton of Momastery). “Jacob and I are witnessing so much beauty as our community and family and friends connect, as a new normal is understood in our family and as we accept that FOP is ‘our thing’.”
As I interviewed Amy, she shared a heartwarming story. One night she was sitting next to the bathtub as Zip bathed and was playing ‘make believe’ with toys. Amy asked Zip a question. If he could have one wish, what would it be? He sat on a foam rocket and said that “I would become an astronaut!” Then he asked his mommy the same question. If she had one wish, what would it be? Amy told Zip that she would want FOP to go away. That made Zip sad, and with tears in his eyes Zip asked, “Mommy, why would you want that?” I told him because I worry so much about him and I just want him to be safe. He said, “But FOP is me, Mommy, why would you want to change me?” Words of wisdom from a 6-year-old: Be who you are.
In closing, our inspiring young member Zip wants everyone to know he is a big SpongeBob fan and he loves playing online game Minecraft with other people on his mom’s iPad. Zip also shared his favorite foods are chicken nuggets plus chips and dip.
As the New Year begins, we welcome 2014 knowing people like Zip and his family make our FOP Community’s future bright!
To see the latest news about Zip Gordon and ZipperQ