What It Takes To Be Special
A child is a butterfly in the wind,
Some can fly higher than others,
But each one flies the best that it can,
Why compare one against the other?
Each one is different,
Each one is special,
Each one is beautiful.
I want to take this opportunity to let you all in on a little secret. We have an Olympian and a World Class athlete in our family! In fact, she is the niece of my sister and brother-in-law, Mark and Emma-Leigh. She will be a proud representative of the United States in the 2013 Special Olympics World Games being held in Pyeong Chang, South Korea, from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5. She will be competing in Alpine Skiing and will be a part of a group of 3,000 athletes from 112 countries! Learning to ski at age 5, she is proficient in slalom and giant slalom. Should she place in the top 3, those medals will join ones she has won for participating in the sport of track and field. She is also a shining example of what dedication, perseverance and a zest for living can bless us with when we seek to become the very best we can be! Now this particular athlete owes much of what has made her so very special to two loving and dedicated parents. From the moment of her birth, they decided that there would be nothing that was beyond her reach and I am certain there were times when some things needed to be sacrificed so that this young woman could receive what she would need to not just attain but to exceed her potential. Who, you ask, is this athlete? Her name is Maureen Larsen, and if you google that name, you will find multiple articles that speak of her talent and accomplishments. You can read a mini biography by clicking on the following link: (http://www.sonj.org/iGMS/Home.php?CompetitionId=56&What2Do=Athlete&Id=Larsen%2C+Maureen) but a brief recap of her successes in track and field include:
4×400 Meter Relay: 1st Place
800 Meter Run: 2nd Place
4×100 Meter Relay: 1st Place
1500 Meter Run: 3rd Place
Maureen is 24 years old and attended a mainstream public Elementary and High Schools in New Jersey at her parents urging and lettered in track while attending Ocean City High School. Yes, she did receive some additional services, much like my daughter did when she needed speech therapy in Elementary School to correct her lisp. However, while Maureen is, indeed, very special, she was never treated as a special needs child. And because of this she has grown to become a special young woman not a special needs young woman. Maureen has Down’s Syndrome and while most of you know what this genetic condition looks like since the physical characteristics of Down’s is readily identifiable, what you may not know is that while Maureen, and other people born with an extra copy of Chromosome 21 (which is what causes this genetic condition) have Down’s Syndrome, Down’s Syndrome does NOT define who these people are nor does it define what they can accomplish in the world. That is something that Maureen’s parents (and her extended family) knew the moment she was born and it is what they live by as they watch this special young woman grow. Yes, some things may be harder and yes, Maureen may have to learn to do some things in a little different way. But she will always be the very best she can be because that is how she was raised. And I can not think of any greater gift that we can give another, especially a child, than that!
HEAVEN’S VERY SPECIAL CHILD
by Edna Massimilla
(herself the mother of a child with Down’s Syndrome)
A meeting was held quite far from Earth
It was time again for another birth.
Said the Angels to the Lord above —
“This special child will need much love.
“Her progress may be very slow
“Accomplishment she may not show.
“And she’ll require extra care
“From the folks she meets down there.
“She may not run or laugh or play
“Her thoughts may seem quite far away
“So many times she will be labeled
“‘different,’ ‘helpless’ and disabled.
“So, let’s be careful where she’s sent.
“We want her life to be content.
“Please, Lord, find the parents who
“Will do a special job for you.
“They will not realize right away
“The leading role they are asked to play.
“But with this child sent from above
“Comes stronger faith, and richer love.
“And soon they’ll know the privilege given
“In caring for their gift from heaven.
“Their precious charge, so meek and mild
“Is heaven’s very special child.”
Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
Exodus 4:11 ESV
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