By DAVE O’SULLIVAN

Staff Writer

During an Absegami High swim meet back in 2018, Braves senior Stan Adams Jr. was whistled for a false start ahead of the 50 freestyle event. Nobody in attendance that day could blame him for excitedly jumping the starting horn — it was the first time he had ever competed in a high school swim meet and was raring to go.

Diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, meaning he’s somewhere on the autism spectrum) as a child, just getting to the point where he could swim 50 meters without stopping was a huge accomplishment for him, and when he touched the wall the whole place went crazy with applause.

It’s been that kind of journey for Stan, who is now 22 years old. Faced with challenges from birth, he just keeps overcoming them. That drive and determination to succeed is what inspired his mother, Karyn, to write a book about him that was published this winter on Kindle and in paperback form. Karyn Adams works as a senior clinical study associate at a biotech company and never envisioned herself as an author.

Now, she’s taking pictures with her son at local book signings, like the one in Brigantine earlier this month.

Stan Adams Jr., 22, of Galloway, stands next to a portrait of the cover of the book his mother, Karyn, wrote about his life and how he overcome challenges to become a successful young adult in the community. (Photo provided by Karyn Adams)

“A college student actually suggested it because he was doing a presentation about Stan. He thought he was going to write a book but it turned out to be just a presentation to his class, and afterward he was telling me, ‘you really should write a book about Stan.’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t have time for that.’ But one night — it was actually Stan’s birthday — the house was all quiet late at night and I just sat at the computer, and the next thing I knew I had 10 pages. And it just kind of went from there. I just kept writing,” Karyn said. “I knew what I wanted to write, and I didn’t want it to be a huge book. I wanted it to be a short, simple read. I wanted to talk about the early years, all the challenges, and the triumphs. I also wanted to add some pictures of some of the triumphs that he’s had, such as his success with swimming and the awards he got that year (at Absegami).”

The book is called “Don’t Give Up: The Stan Adams Jr. Story” (available through Kindle for $13 or Amazon for $20 in paperback). It takes the reader through the life of Stan, who is succeeding and living a full life while living with special needs. Stan works a few days a week at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway, he’s involved three days per week with V.O.I.C.E. (Vocational Opportunities In Career Education) through Interactive Kids, and on the weekends he still swims and has a community support team member who is able to take him on trips to museums and parks and things of that nature.

“The response to the book has been amazing. I’ve gotten so many messages. People say how much it has inspired them. We had a book signing recently and I thought maybe 40 people would come, but we had close to 60 and a lot of people had already purchased the book,” Karyn said. “It wasn’t as hard to write as I thought it would be, because I knew Stan’s story. At first I thought, ‘oh, I can’t write a book.’ But because I knew Stan’s story it made it easier to just sit down and let it flow from beginning to end. I knew the story; I lived the story.”

Getting the book published in December was bittersweet for Karyn, as it came out on Dec. 8, the same day her mother passed away.  

“I did it through Kindle self publishing. One of my friends had published a book and she knew the process, so she walked me through it. On Dec. 7 she helped me upload the book, and normally it takes 72 hours, so I wasn’t expecting to hear from them for a few days. When I got up the next morning I got an email from them that said, ‘congratulations! Your book has been published.’ I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “My mom passed away on Dec. 8, the day the book was published, so it was kind of bittersweet. My mom saw the book a few months earlier and she was happy about it. I was glad I got to show it to her.”

Back in 2018, Stan was a senior on the Absegami swim team when he got his first chance to compete as a varsity athlete during the Braves’ meet against Ocean City. (South Jersey Glory Days file photo/Sully)

The book has photos throughout, Adams said, including some of his high school swimming days, when Stan was once the cover story for Glory Days.

“Stan really enjoyed signing the book and having people take pictures of him, but I don’t think he grasps what a huge deal this is. I still don’t think he really grasps what a huge accomplishment this is. He knows the book is about him, that he does know. Right now, he’s just fascinated with all the pictures,” Karyn said. “I sent the book to coach Wink (Absegami swim coach Jim Winkler), and some of the girls who swam with Stan during high school came to the book signing and he was so excited about that. One of the girls who was there (at the book signing), Angela Zhang, there’s a picture of her with Stan in the book and she’s really sweet. The whole community has been amazing, really.”

Karyn Adams said she isn’t anywhere close to living a multi-million dollar lifestyle like some famous authors, but money was never the motivation for writing this book. She hopes that telling Stan’s story — including all the help she’s gotten from his younger brother, Stephon — can be an inspiration for other parents out there trying to cope with children who have special needs. She wants other parents to know there are avenues to success.

“I’m just taking this one day at a time. We’ll probably have another book signing in a few months, and we’re in the process of getting Facebook and Instagram accounts specifically for the book in hopes of reaching a broader audience. Maybe we can try to get it in local book stores like B.A.M. or Barnes & Noble,” Karyn said. “We’re just trying to get the book out there more because the response has been great. People have said it’s inspiring and that it is a really good resource for parents who have kids with special needs. My goal for the book was to inspire others, and I feel like we’ve done that. This book really was a labor of love. That’s the best way to describe it. There were challenges for us, but with the right resources — and having a village around you — it is possible for a child to be successful.”

Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sullyglorydays@gmail.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays