On The Heart Beat
Love From Above?
If there are soccer moms in heaven, Mary Mansaray could be captain of that team.
Mary’s heart was big enough to root for all her quartet of footballers, three boys and a girl who she watched compete on East Pennsboro, PA pitches before she died.
It seems her big heart was too big - medically known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
What’s scary is that enlarged heart condition - the same that took the lives of Reggie Lewis and Hank Gathers, renowned hoopsters - is hereditary.
As captain, Mary, seemingly, has been motherly empowered to mitigate the inheritance in her children.
Doctors say the Mansaray baby, John, is fine and his sister Beverly’s condition is not serious. Firstborn, Peter, Jr.’s condition is managed with medication.
Middle boy, Joe? Now, that’s another story - an inspired one.
One June night a few years ago, Joe woke up struggling to breathe, ultimately leading to a full heart transplant at The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania.
Known as “The Blur” by his East Pennsboro high school teammates and Coach Randy Rich, Joe had scored eight goals the previous year and earned second-team all-conference honors.
Barely able to make it from his bed to the bathroom without being winded, Joe had a goal - get back on the pitch - that Coach Rich thought was not possible.
Well, just prior to the next season as Rich was traipsing across the school parking lot he was met by the full Mansaray soccer family, led by super soccer dad Peter, Sr. who told Coach Rich that doctors had cleared Joe to play again.
Did mother Mary intervene? Who’s to say? But Mary’s celestial smile must have been broad that day when “The Blur” walked back on the practice field and began working his way into Rich’s starting lineup again, scoring, defending, amazing and blurring all doubts.
Today the footballing Mansaray’s are COVID quiet but intend to keep kicking when their teams reassemble.
In the interim, Joe’s begun the process of finding the family of the donor heart that beats in his chest.
“I think about it every day. I just want to thank them,” Joe says.
And the beat goes on…