There were also group sessions for Bob and Janice. "We see ourselves as working with families, not individuals," says Salant. It would have been hard, certainly, for the school not to be aware of Jeff's family. Salant tells of Jeff's rejoinder when a classmate broke a rule: "Uh-oh. Into the penalty box."
Bourne tries to minimize the help he and Janice have given the school. "The best thing for us was for the Islanders to keep winning Stanley Cups," he says. "It gave us such a high profile that fund-raising was easy."
But then, in 1986, the Islanders failed to list Bourne as a protected player, and the Kings acquired him in the NHL's waiver draft. For the Bournes, so content on Long Island, the transition has been rocky.
Two months ago they learned that Jeff, like many spina bifida victims, also has scoliosis, or lateral curvature of the spine, and will have to wear a stiff plastic brace from chest to midthigh (in addition to the leg braces that extend from his thighs down under his feet) until he stops growing. If the scoliosis does not improve, doctors will fuse Jeff's spine, greatly reducing the chance that he will walk as an adult. Such concerns tend to make the question of whether the Kings will reach the playoffs seem less important.
Salant tells a story: One morning at school when Jeff was not quite four, he stood leaning forward in his braces, painting at an easel. Bob, who was at the school for a meeting, sneaked up behind his son to surprise him. Salant saw the boy "look up and up and finally recognize his father. He was so thrilled, he just beamed. I can't rid my memory of that beaming face."
She also won't soon forget Bourne's contributions to her school. In addition to raising funds, he visited the school often, got to know all the children and teachers and spent a lot of time in the classrooms. Salant is speaking of Bob and Janice as much as of Jeff when she says, "We miss them a lot."