The leader of a Christian conservative group has added chapters to a book he wrote in 2007 about his profoundly disabled son, Lucas.

“Unfortunately last year Lucas came down with non-COVID pneumonia and we fully expected him to beat the odds again because he’s beat it so many times, but this one he just couldn’t beat,” The Family Leader president and CEO Bob Vander Plaats says, “so when he passed away on November 22 last year, I said to Darla this would be the right time to finish the story, so to speak.”

Lucas — the third son of Vander Plaats and his wife, Darla — was born with a rare brain disorder that required 24 hour care. He died just before Thanksgiving last year at the age of 28. The book “Light from Lucas” has the subtitle of “Lessons in Faith from a Fragile Life.”

“Don’t take life for granted. It’s not for us to understand,” Vander Plaats says. “We have an opportunity to make a difference.”

In the book’s recently added chapters, Vander Plaats discusses his son’s final days and his family’s farewell.

“Lucas’ life had a dynamic impact,” Vander Plaats says. “It’s like I told one of our pastors, I said: ‘Isn’t it ironic that the young man who could never say a word delivers the most powerful sermon.'”

Vander Plaats says the book’s publisher is making plans for him, his wife and sons as well as Lucas’ caregiver to read their story aloud — since audio books are a growing market. Vander Plaats says one of his sons recently spoke about a lesson he learned of having a brother with profound disabilities.

“He said in order to impact Lucas’ life or Lucas to impact your life, you had to be there,” Vander Plaats says. “You couldn’t phone it in, you couldn’t Zoom it in, you couldn’t do anything else. You had to be there.”

Vander Plaats was a high school principle and coach when Lucas was born in 1993. Vander Plaats switched careers and took a job as executive of a Sioux City based organization that provides therapy and residential services to individuals with profound physical and intellectual disabilities. Vander Plaats ran for governor in 2002 and 2006. He’s been president and CEO of the The Family Leader since 2010.

Radio Iowa