More and more parents and caregivers are seeing and celebrating their children’s uniqueness. We notice when they have unique ways of learning, unique strengths, special talents and creativity. We also see blind spots and foresee challenges they may face that other kids won’t. We try to consider and imagine the possibilities. Then make the best choices we can to raise them, nurture them, equip them for the future and challenge them to be the exceptional person that only they can become. Five parents tell their stories of raising kids at Durango Diaries. The speakers include: Andy Corra, father of Wiley, 15, who fell nearly 40 feet from a pedestrian bridge earlier this year while visiting Salt Lake City. At the time, Wylie was a freshman at Durango High School, known for his skills in outdoor sports. He has been kayaking since he was 2 and was on the high school cross-country team. But his main sport is Nordic skiing. Two weeks before his accident, Wiley placed third at the 2018 US Ski & Snowboard Cross Country Junior National Championships. Janet Kuss, mother of Jeff and Eric, likes to say she doesn’t know much about parenting, but she knows about grief. Her son, Jeff Kuss, died in a plane crash June 2, 2016, while training for an airshow with the Blue Angels in Smyrna, Tennessee. “He wanted to fly since he was a baby,” she said. “He could barely sit up and he would choose the fat, plastic planes over everything else.” Eric still lives in Durango and works at Durango Glass. Jim Judge, father of Mike, Jay and Shana. Judge, like other parents, said all of his children are gifted and exceptional in their own way. But Mike Judge has a little more name recognition. He is the Emmy-winning animator who created “King of the Hill,” “Beavis and Butt-Head,” “Silicon Valley,” and the feature film, “Office Space.” Mike Judge is now working on a new animated series called “Tales from the Tour Bus.” Mike Judge was born in Ecuador, raised in Albuquerque and majored in physics at University of California, San Diego. “He was kind of an average kid growing up,” said Jim Judge, who taught archaeology at Fort Lewis College from 1990 to 2003. Priscilla Blevins, mother of Kaylee and Christopher, lost her mother before her children were born. But she passed on her mother’s values to Kaylee and Christopher, who share a unique bond. Anyone who follows mountain biking has likely heard of Christopher Blevins, but they may not know Kaylee Blevins plays a key role in her brother’s success. Jennifer McConnell is a mother of four children, including Everett, 11, who tests in the 99th percentile of intelligence for his age. Though he is exceptionally intelligent, he is often misunderstood. He has struggled in school because of a number of emotional challenges, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and autism spectrum disorder. She’ll talk about what it’s like to have a twice exceptional child.
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