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Lifestyle // Island Matters
Mufi Hannemann

Saluting The Bravery Of A Young Warrior

Beach Day for the Jordans (from left) Chris, Sophia, Rebecca, Michael-Logan and Jaxson (front) | Photo courtesy Jordan family

Beach Day for the Jordans (from left) Chris, Sophia, Rebecca, Michael-Logan and Jaxson (front) | Photo courtesy Jordan family

It was Christmas Eve 2006, when the military vehicle in which Marine Master Sgt. Chris Jordan was blasted by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He faced death head on and suffered a severe concussion, traumatic brain injury, facial lacerations and fractured spine, and his left leg was peppered with shrapnel. His life was fragile – hanging by a thread. His Christmas wish that night was that he would live to see his family in Hawaii once again.

“When my father was injured during the Iraq war, I was very sick back then with complications from a disease called macrophage activation syndrome (MAS),” says Michael-Logan Jordan, who was just 8 at the time. MAS is a rare, potentially lethal complication of chronic rheumatic diseases in childhood.

While his father battled for his life in the line of fire, here at home Michael-Logan was dealing with a war zone of his own. The child’s heart, liver and kidneys were failing, and he constantly was battling extremely high fever. Like his father, he was fighting for his dear life.

“My dad was wounded, and I was frightened for him. When he came home, we rehabbed together. He understood what it was like to be in chronic pain, and I understood the sacrifices he made on a daily basis for this wonderful country,” he says.

Father and son began to form a deeper bond and lived by their motto: “Pain is really weakness leaving the body.” The pair grew stronger as they worked side by side receiving medical treatments, while Rebecca Jordan nursed her loved ones back to health.

“It was then that my son decided his mission in life would be to help wounded warriors and their families,” she says.

The Kalaheo High student initially was diagnosed at the age of 3 with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). His illnesses are severe and limit his mobility. He has had multiple surgeries and takes numerous oral medications daily. He undergoes biologic/chemo infusions, injections and physical therapy. At age 13, Michael-Logan formed The Logan’s Heroes Foundation, which helps wounded warriors, first responders and disadvantaged children coast to coast. He is also an ambassador for the Arthritis Foundation, serving as an advocate, educating thousands of people across the country about his daily battles and what he is doing to overcome his fears and pain. He makes presentations at schools, at businesses and in government offices, including lobbying on Capitol Hill, where he addressed Congress about arthritis, the need for board-certified pediatric rheumatologists within the U.S. Defense Department community, and access to lifesaving drugs.

“My son has carried the torch for a brighter future for more than 300,000 children who share his condition. He truly means it when he says he is working for a cure,” says Rebecca.

“He connects to the military in every way he can, from filling out Christmas cards for wounded warriors, assembling care packages, donating money he raises to the Gary Sinise Foundation, holding annual Toys for Tots drives, volunteering with the Wounded Warrior Project, and helping organizations such as Operation Homefront and Blue Star Families,” says Chris.

Though there is no cure for arthritis, Michael-Logan says service projects help him drown out his complications. “I am always in pain. Some days are better than others. I walk with a cane and sometimes I am able to walk without it,” explains the 15-year-old.

Living with daily pain is a heavy weight on his shoulders, as well as his joints and his bones, but the teen survivor sees his health challenges as pure strength.

“You know how you lift weights to gain muscle and you get stronger? Well, God gave me this disease (the weight) to make me stronger – not just physically and mentally, but spiritually as well,” he says. “Our family’s motto is that ‘God gives His hardest battles to His strongest soldiers.’ I am grateful that God has a special purpose for me.”

It was no surprise to family and friends when they learned that the Kailua youth will be the recipient of the Military Child of the Year Award from Operation Homefront April 10, in Washington, D.C. The national nonprofit organization that provides emergency assistance to military families annually gives the award to an outstanding military child from each branch of service.

“I won the Marine Corps category. I will get to spend time on Capitol Hill, the White House and participate in a project for Global Youth Service Day,” says Michael-Logan. His prizes will include a laptop computer, $5,000 and a chance to participate in a gala held in his honor.

It was always the award-winning teen’s dream to wear the uniform like his dad, but with mobility challenges brought on by severe arthritis, it is no longer a reality for him: “Winning this award, I feel like I made my father, my family, my community and my country proud.”

Though he may never wear the cloth of military service like his decorated father, his family believes Michael-Logan Jordan will go on to do greater things for our country. He aspires to be a pediatric rheumatologist, focusing his practice within military treatment facilities.

Congratulations, Chris and Rebecca, for raising such a fine, young warrior determined to wage the war against juvenile arthritis until a cure is found.

mufi@mufihannemann.com

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