Coach's wife writes book on disabled daughter

May 11, 2008 8:55:22 PM PDT
"Miles from the Sideline" is a book about a mother's journey with her disabled daughter. It is also an encouraging story for other mothers who have children with special needs.

Maura Weis, wife of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, shares her personal challenges raising their 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has a rare developmental disorder.

"There are two paths that you can take when it comes to devastating news of any kind. You can break down or you can let it make you stronger," said Weis.

After a rocky start from kidney problems, Hannah Weis was developing normally.

"At two and half, she went into a world of her own and that's when I think was so devastated. Here was this young lady, a baby that wanted to be with mom all the time. Then she went from that to sitting in front of a TV set, watching Barney, fast forwarding and rewinding. She was very sensory at things," said Weis.

After many changes, Hannah was diagnosed with a severe global development delay caused by a rare seizure disorder. Life also changed for Maura.

"I went through a depression. I went through not a serious depression but just one where I didn't know where to go. My husband was working all these crazy hours, I had the two kids at home and the one thing that always brought me through was the fact my son is normal. And he said to me, 'Mom, that's enough time with Hannah. I need time too,'" she said.

Writing "Miles from the Sideline: A Mother's Journey with her Special Needs Daughter" helped Maura to cope with her personal struggles and teach others that it can happen to anyone.

"I want to help families," said Weis. "I really wanted people to know that you're not alone.

For Hannah's future, the Weises are creating a community in South Bend, Indiana.

"It's going be great, it's going to be a farm. It's Hannah and her friends' farm. We've been approved to put 16 homes with four people per home. Right now, we have the recreation center being built and that's going to be a meeting place because I think families need to network," said Weis.

"There's a lot of different stages that you go through when you find out you know Hannah's never going to go to Notre Dame. I used to think, 'What is she? What can I teach her? What can I possibly teach my daughter?' And Charlie and I found out that she's been our greatest teacher and the whole roles have reversed," Weis explained.

For more information visit www.hannahandfriends.org.


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