Architects of a New Dawn

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Two Choices - What Would You Do? From Jerry Jampolsky

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?' The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart..

The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eight inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning Aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball. the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

Shay, run to third!' As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!' Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

AND > NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity, or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

Would you have made the same choice?

May your day be a Shay Day.

Xo

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Very touching story, it brings the tears to the eyes and moves the heart.
i've heard this story a few times, and never fails to open in me whatever needs to be opened...thank you for posting this here!
here's to a beautiful Shay Day for all of us -

love
This is a fabulous story but I have heard it before. I am pretty sure I read it in Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was nice to hear it again though.
a great story - well told.!!

I have  worked for about 15 years as a business administrator of 2 business entities in the field of rehab of children with special abilities. We provided home care and care in the school setting. What i have seen is that the younger the classmates of the special child are the less discriminatinng are against the special child. In the elementary schools the special child was facing ridicule from only few of his classmates - the usual bullies who were bullying all the children whether they had disabilities or not.  The problems starts when the child attends junior high and they escalate during high school. This period is very critical for the special child. All the parents must instill to their kids that they must be gentle and helping the children with special abilities or disabilities.

A special child has also a special soul. A spiritual  advanced soul that chose to incarnate in a special body and live a difficult life in order to advance further spiritually. A side effect of this is that he/she leaves an imprint on the  hearts and minds of the people he comes in touch with. This child provides food for thought that it is useful for our spiritual progress as well.

When i was growing in Athens, Greece I had 2 friends with disabilities. Anna had Down's syndrome. John had mental retardation and physical problems. But when we were playing out in the street we did not discriminate against Anna or John. Of course many a times we were looking the other way in order to help Anna or John win in a certain game. Anna was a very sweet being. Unfortunatelly once she reached puberty, her illiterate mother imprisoned her inside the house and Anna left her body before the age of 20.

John, was lucky because he had loving  parents and siblings who did their best to help him and took him to the best of doctors to correct a problem on his knees. He underwent  various operations that enabled him to walk independently. Eventually though, as he grew older he needed to walk using crutches and now he walks using a walker. John is one of my best friends. We really can't have a conversation like I have with my non-retarded friends, because John has the mental state of a 7 year old child. But John has a very good soul. This is expressed through his constant smile and his calm, strong eyes and when he looks at me i feel his eyes are  piercing me trying to reach the real me, inside. John is not  aware of this of course.  John is religious and he  loves Jesus.  When I visit Greece I visit him and we discuss various subjects that he can understand but eventually we end up talking about  Jesus.  I love being with John because of the goodness of his heart and his aura.

Anna and John have left an imprint on me and I have become a better person.

Another case is that of a relative of mine who gave birth to a boy who when he was in the elementary school failed  the first grade. When I and my wife heard this we knew right away that the child had a learning disability and flew to the city my relative was living and we went straight to his school and questioned the princiipal why the teacher did not send the kid to special education when the kid was in the first months of the first grade. He said that the teacher informed the special ed department of the school board but there was no available occupational therapist because there was only one OT visitng a different school each year and  that she was in that school 2 years ago and that she would not come back for another 5 years. I immediatelly took the kid to NYC where he went thru various tests and assessments which proved that the kid had an exceptionally high IQ but he had an auditory problem and he could not assimilate auditory stimuli as fast as most people did but when he was reading he could assimilate faster than children of his age. I took him back to his country and I went to his school principal and i explained to him what was wrong with the kid and the principal repeated again that the OT would be in that school in 5 years. To make the story short I had to threaten the school board that I would defamate the city and the country until my last breath if they did not help the kid. Eventually they agreed to hire one more OT for the kid. Did the kid receive special education? NO... Because his mother did not want her child to be characterized as a "loonie" by her friends, as she told me. I translated into Greek tons of information about the problem of the child, how  it can be corrected and what would happen to him if his problem was not corrected.   She refused to allow her kid to be put in special ed. I and my wife offered to take the kid to NYC so we give him the proped help. His mother refused again. We even offered to adopt the child. She refused.  The result? The kid is now 26 years old and he is deppressed and unemployed. He does not have friends and spends his days playing pc games.  His  illiterate mother never realized what a treasure brought to this world and she did not help her son to live a descent life on the contrary she codemn her son to live a miserable life. This kid  is my nephew and godson. His mother is my sister.

So I believe we should be helping these special souls who chose to incarnate in special  bodies  and all of us will gain  both spiritually and physically from this interaction. But if we act negatively, then our suffering is a sure thing.

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