10-year-old author focuses on what Mito kids can do
“This book shows that even though children who have disabilities have their struggles, they can still do things in their own, different way.”
Author Noah Polatty’s favorite line from a review of “Sports Impossible”
Writing is a struggle for Noah Polatty. That’s what Brandi and Chad Polatty were told about their son, who has mitochondrial disease.
His teacher recommended he do writing exercises at home. Brandi, a published author under the pen names J.B. McGee and J.P. McGee, was happy to oblige.
This “struggling” writer, just 10 years old, has published a book with his mom, who is using her pen name J.P. McGee, called “Sports Impossible.”
The book, self-published and out on Amazon.com now, tells the story of Matthew, a boy with mitochondrial disease who wants to play sports, but can’t.
“We started coming up with obstacles that Matthew would have and why he can’t play,” said Brandi. “It turned into Noah’s story.”
Noah enjoyed spending time with his mama while writing the book. But more than that, “I wanted to share my disease and show people they’re not the only ones,” he said. “I hope [the book] raises awareness about mitochondrial disease.”
Noah, his 8-year-old brother, Jonah, and both his parents have mitochondrial disease. The boys’ symptoms include dysmotility, dysautonomia, apnea, and severe ADHD. They both have feeding tubes for hydration and they both get sick very easily.
About a year ago, on the ride home from the hospital after Noah had had an X-ray for an obstruction, he asked his mom if they could write. They did most of the brainstorming during that car ride.
“It’s important for kids to know that even if they have a disability, don’t let that define you,” Brandi said. “Let your abilities define you.”
In the book, Matthew’s parents shower him with gifts of things he can do to make up for the fact that he can’t participate in sports. When Brandi and Noah got to a point in the book where they wanted to find a sport Matthew could do, Brandi suggested swimming.
“That was a key moment for us,” she said. “Noah was always afraid of the water but we didn’t know why.”
Noah told his mom that Matthew wouldn’t want to swim because he’d be afraid his legs would get tired and he would drown. “That was an a-ha moment for us,” Brandi said. “We thought other Mito kids would feel the same way so we wrote it into the story.”
Noah’s favorite part of the book is “when we find a sport Matthew could play!”
“We wanted to end the book with something a Mito kid could do,” Brandi said. Noah came up with ideas of sports he could maybe play and they picked one of those for Matthew. But we won’t spoil the book by divulging the sport here!
Even though the actual writing of the book took only an hour, it took about a year to come to fruition. Noah admits, “I was getting so impatient, thinking, ‘When will the book be out?’”
Brandi reached out to a colleague to do the illustrations. Brandi explained to Andrea Perno, an art teacher, that she didn’t have the money upfront to pay for illustrations but they could share the royalties. Andrea wanted to help out and signed on. She worked off of photos of Noah for the illustrations.
Shortly after they were done with the book, the family heard about Team IMPACT. According to the Team IMPACT website, “We improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team.” The child joins an athletic team and the student athletes join the child’s support team.
Noah and Jonah were “drafted” by the Georgia Gwinnett College men’s soccer team. It’s changed their lives.
“When the boys were on the field for the National Anthem, wearing their soccer jerseys, I looked at my husband and said, ‘We are soccer parents!’” It was something they thought they would never be.
“We are getting moments we thought we were robbed of. It brings joy to our kids, which brings joy to us.”
The Buford, GA, family is so impressed by Team IMPACT that Brandi and Noah are planning a sequel to “Sports Impossible” that includes Team IMPACT.
“I can’t wait to write the sequel,” Noah said.
To purchase the book, go to www.amazon.com.