Simply Extraordinary

Call it urban legend, or Internet lore, but I have heard of some pretty astonishing feats of superhuman parenting. Like the mom who lifted a 1964 Chevy Impala off of her son trapped beneath its wheels; and the father who rescued his daughter from being crushed by a large boulder. (To wit, I recently flung myself into the path of a snarling beast who had lunged at my daughter and I while on a walk through the neighborhood. Okay, perhaps the beast was more like an overly enthusiastic German Shepherd jumping up to lick my daughter’s feet as they dangled like tasty little biscuits out of the Baby Bjorn, but with all that slobber, I was convinced the animal was Cujo. But I digress.)

Up until this point, I had heard several potentially outlandish tales of this nature, but never one of a parent who claimed to have moved a mountain to save his children. Until I read the story of Princeton residents John and Aileen Crowley…

When John and Aileen’s daughter was 15 months old and their younger son was four months, they were told that both children had been born with Pompe disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects only a few thousand children worldwide. The Crowleys also were told that their son and daughter would not live to see their eighth birthdays. Instead of accepting this unimaginable fate, the Crowleys decided to indeed move a mountain: John walked away from a successful corporate career to co-found a start-up biotech company focused exclusively on developing a life-saving medicine for his kids. Which is exactly what he did.

The miracle that transpired in the process was so remarkable that it first was turned into a Pulitzer Prize–winning book by The Wall Street Journal reporter Geeta Anand. The book then inspired the movie, Extraordinary Measures, now in theaters nationwide and starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, and Keri Russell.

If you want to learn more about this incredible family, head to Princeton Marketfair tomorrow, January 23, for the 1 p.m. screening of Extraordinary Measures, which will be introduced by the Crowleys (I suggest buying tickets now on An exclusive reading and pre-release book signing at Barnes & Noble of John Crowley’s new personal memoir, Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope, and Joy, detailing how he and his wife surmounted these phenomenal odds, will follow the film. I plan on being at both events because couldn’t we all use just a little a dose of faith, hope, and inspiration? I think so.  —JH

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