Jack Weyland is known for writing books, like Charly. But when it came to writing a book about his longtime friend, Don Croasmun, Weyland took a different route.
“The purpose of this book is to allow more people to come to love and appreciate Don and to learn from his great example,” Weyland wrote in the foreword of The Adventures of Don Croasmun.
To best fulfill this purpose, Weyland used original documents and photos of Don Croasmun’s to tell the story.
“It was a great experience,” Weyland said. “I learned some things that I didn’t know about Don, and that was wonderful.”
The book begins with Don Croasmun’s mother, Martha Croasmun, explaining how she felt optimistic about Don’s life when he was born, even though the doctors did not.
Don Croasmun was born with cerebral palsy, the most severe case the doctors said they had seen, and was expected to have mental retardation and behavioral problems throughout his life. But in the book Martha wrote, she said that she knew in her heart that he would not.
And she was right.
Forty-six years later, Don Croasmun said he considers the fact that he can do almost anything to be one of his greatest accomplishments in life.
The Adventures of Don Croasmun contains stories from either Don Croasmun’s or his loved ones’ perspectives about many of the challenges he has not only faced in his life, but has also overcome.
There are stories about his youth and how he used a head wand to paint a winter scene; how as an adult he was an assistant college basketball coach; how he helped make the BYU-Idaho campus more accessible for people with disabilities; how he has participated in marathons with his siblings and how he has influenced the lives of those around him.
“As I look back at my life, the events that have given me the most satisfaction are when I help others feel comfortable talking with me,” Don wrote in the final section of The Adventures of Don Croasmun.
Because of his cerebral palsy, Don Croasmun has difficulty speaking clearly which he said can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable talking to him.
Weyland said that when he first met Don Croasmun, he had a difficult time understanding him until he learned to do what Don Croasmun’s parents do when they cannot understand him — simply ask him to repeat himself.
Don Croasmun said he is happy to repeat himself or even spell something out to help someone understand him.
“If you’re patient (. . .) it’s always worthwhile, (because) he’s got a tremendous mind, a tremendous sense of humor, and there’s little gems that he has in the conversation,” Weyland said.
Don Croasmun said he thinks that as people read his stories, they will be able to feel more comfortable around other people with disabilities as well.
Tom Croasmun said he hopes that people will be able to gain a new perspective about people with disabilities through the book.
“As for me, and I think Don, we hope that people will learn that people with disabilities are people — they just have a disability, that they’re children of God, and that they’ll treat them as such, and will love them and know that people with disabilities have the same wants and desires as other people do, that they might feel comfortable around them, and not shun them,” said, Tom Croasmun, Don Croasmun’s father.
Don Croasmun has chosen to have the proceeds from The Adventures of Don Croasmun go to the Wheelchair Project of Humanitarian Services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In the past year, this organization was able to donate 57,000 wheelchairs to people around the globe, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic origin, according to the Wheelchairs Web page of the LDS Philanthropies website.
Weyland said that with every 125 books sold, there will be enough money to donate one wheelchair.
“So, for you, this will not only be a good read, but a good deed,” Weyland wrote in the book.
Martha Croasmun said that Don was once told he was sent to earth to bring a special blessing to those around him.
“Those who don’t know Don have missed something in their lives,” she said.