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Super Dad Jon Scheinman

Jon Scheinman 1Married nearly 15 years, Jon Scheinman and his wife Allison moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2001 to escape the cold Northeast winters. Soon after, they welcomed their now 8-year-old twin girls, Hailey and Olivia (Livy). “Life may have been easier if Livy was born without special needs, but we have learned that the hard is what makes it great,” he says. Livy was born with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is nonverbal and cannot walk or sit up. The proud father says, “She has changed our lives in so many ways and has made us reevaluate what is important in life.” The family started Livy’s Hope with a mission to give gifts of inspiration to children with medical needs and their families, provide community education and raise money for epilepsy research.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a dad?

When I watch the impact my girls have on people, it takes my breath away. Livy has never spoken a word but has changed the lives of more people in eight years than I have in my entire life. The way she inspires others and draws them to her is like nothing I have ever seen. Hailey’s joyous personality is infectious. She is wise beyond her years and beautiful inside and out.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kids? 

We love to have what we call the family sandwich. It is basically a big group hug with Allison and me as the bread, Hailey as the peanut butter and Livy as the jelly. It usually ends in a tickle war and nonstop laughter.

What is the most challenging part of fatherhood?

It’s balancing the needs of both my girls. Hailey can tell me exactly what she wants and how she feels. Livy requires an extra form of intuition since she is not able to communicate with us in the traditional manner. Over the years, we have had to make a happy, engaging environment for Hailey while at the same time attending to Livy’s complicated condition.

Who influenced the kind of father you are?

My grandmother’s wonderful smile could light up even the darkest of rooms. She was everyone’s friend and treated each person she met with respect and compassion. Her family was her prized possession. She taught us how to be better people just by being herself. I try to approach fatherhood with so many of the values she instilled.

As a father, how do you view your responsibilities?

I always strive to face my responsibilities head on. I accept them as they come and consider them the most important thing I do every day. Allison and I work as a team. Our family doesn’t function unless we have both a mom and a dad present. Livy adds a tremendous amount of complexity to our lives but I promised her during one of her numerous hospital visits that I will never leave her side and will continue fighting for her no matter what.

What advice would you give other fathers?

I would say to always put family first. Kids look up to their parents. Never forget that we have the ability to shape a child’s life to be full of wonder.

It is often difficult to balance a career with spending time with your family. How do you deal with this and make time for them?

I am fortunate enough to have an incredibly understanding boss. She is all about work life balance and that has made the past eight years of ups and downs with Livy much easier for my family. The harder part is fitting a life’s work into the mix. Livy’s Hope is where we have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives so it is hard to balance that with everything else going on.

What is something people don’t know about you?

I would love to be a storm chaser for a day. Tornadoes fascinate me.

What makes you happy? 

The smiles on my girls’ faces fill me with complete joy. There is nothing like seeing them snuggling together when they first wake up. Also, Allison and I relish the nights when we get to go on a date. We always fall in love all over again. 

Where is your favorite place to go in Tampa?

Nothing beats my house and hearing, “Daddy”  when I walk in. Option two is the Palm Pavillion on Clearwater Beach to relax and enjoy the music, water and sunset.

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