Today, I met with a most inspiring mom, the mother of 17-year-old Jacob, who lives with Fanconi anemia, a genetic degenerative disease. Hearing Rachel Grossman of Buffalo Grove, Ill., speak gave me a renewed appreciation for health, something we can easily take for granted. She inspired me to recognize our gifts and to live every moment to its fullest. IJacob is medically fragile internalize her message again and again, as her words ring powerfully in my mind.

Jacob is medically fragile. He has had two intense transplants during his short life: he is a survivor of a bone-marrow transplant, and is living off a borrowed kidney. Additionally, he takes 15 medications daily. Jacob has to be fed with a feeding tube and catheterized five times in a 24-hour period.

Following are Rachel’s words about her child:

“We are fortunate for the advancements in medicine. In past years, he was constantly in tremendous pain. Now, with new medical adjustments—albeit with all the hurdles they present—he is a new person. Are his medical needs challenging? Yes. Time-consuming? Yes. But they are my life. They are his life. They are our life. Jacob is a walking miracle.

“Looking at his past years, and at his future, I am grateful for every day we have together. I am lucky to have had these 17 years of life with Jacob, and I anticipate more meaningful years together.

“I never dreamed that Jacob would be graduating from high school. I never looked into employment options for him since those opportunities seemed far beyond his reach. And now, thank G‑d, we are nearing those stages! It’s a whole new set of challenges to work through. Vocational programs and independent living choices can be overwhelming and challenging since availability is so low. Being that Jacob’s medical needs are complicated, his options are even fewer than what is available for individuals with other special needs.

“It can be challenging socially and emotionally for Jacob. Jacob is a junior this year. After next year, his friends will go off to college, and he will stay back. His friends are reaching milestones that he will never be able to reach. But he reaches other milestones that only he is able to reach. Each advancement is extremely rewarding. What seems like a baby step can be the finish line of a marathon for Jacob—the marathon of his life that he is so adept at.

“I take life as it comes. Every moment is a treasure that I cherish, that we cherish. I do what I need to do. This is the life I was given, and this is the life I live with. I do my best. We all do our best. Jacob needs a mom and a dad, so we, along with his older sister, Talia, try to be the best family we can be fo him.

“We are forever grateful to wonderful organizations such as Chai Lifeline and the Friendship Circle for their support and care. Having a buddy visit with Jacob on a weekly basis and having him join holiday events within the community in a safe and welcoming setting gives him a sense of acceptance and provides meaningful venues for social interactions.I take life as it comes Such outlets are too often lacking for children and teens with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities deserve friendships just like, if not more than, typically developing people. And their contribution to society is powerful and far-reaching. Their genuine love and friendship can cheer up anyone’s day.

“His favorite hobbies and interests are all about music and Judaism: Someone is needed to lead birkat hamazon? Jacob is first to volunteer. Jacob would love to grow up Orthodox and live in a religious neighborhood. If it were up to him, life would be intrinsically bound up with G‑dliness in a revealed and practical way.”

As the Lubavitcher Rebbe explained in the 1970s and `80s—at a time when individuals with disabilities were often shunned and institutionalized—a person with special needs is more in touch with his or her soul. These special souls are in tune with their Creator and possess a bond far greater than the average person.

Yes, indeed, Jacob has a lofty soul. His soul is perfectly intact and pure. Jacob reminds us all of the unique and precious gifts G‑d has granted us—and continues to grant us on a constant basis. Let us seize the moment and do our very best to make a positive difference in this world.