Friday, April 15, 2011
A Struggle for Acceptance
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. —Actress Marianne Leone, her son, Jesse, and her actor husband, Chris Cooper, were in a French airport, falling backward on an escalator.
Cooper, filming "The Bourne Identity" at the time, had been struggling to accommodate their son's wheelchair on the mechanized stairs. The airport's elevators were out of service, and the 11-year-old boy, who had cerebral palsy, couldn't walk, Leone said Thursday at Bridgewater State University, where she promoted the paperback release of her book "Knowing Jesse: A Mother’s Memoir of Grief, Grace and Everyday Bliss."
The story of the family’s airport debacle reached Jesse's classmates in Kingston, who then wrote letters to mayors, senators and even then-President George W. Bush.
"Dear Mr. Bush, Do you know what happened to my friend Jesse?" Leone recalled one of the letters a student wrote, while she spoke at the university on Thursday.
The classmates' concern that day was a victory for Leone – a realization that her son, finally, was part of his school's community after much strife.