Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hoops For Hope; Because everyone can use a little hope

Thank you, Miss Gerry

When Charley woke up this morning, he thought it would be a typical Saturday with Dad (Pastor at New Hope Presbyterian Church); hanging out at the church while Brad finishes preparations for Sunday morning worship.

He was wrong.

It’s one of our favorite things to do; making him think he’s doing one thing, then surprising him with something else.

And that’s what happened. He did his usual walk through the den, hugged both of us, then said, “Dad, you and me today?”

Brad and I grinned at each other. “No, you’ve got a surprise coming to you.”

Little did he know that he’d not only be spending the day with one of his favorite people, (Miss Gerry), he’d be participating in the annual Hoops For Hope Benefit for the DSAG (Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee).

Just the idea alone is awe-inspiring, as the University of Tennessee men’s and women’s basketball team assumes the roles of coaches, friends, and pals while the participants shoot hoops. 

Thank you, Coach!
Can Charley help it if he’s star-struck? Not everyone gets a new t-shirt signed by the team. And to my chagrin that shirt will eventually need to be washed, but I also know it will have to be surgically remove him first. 

And why wouldn’t he wear it to death? Every time he puts it on it’s a reminder that for a day, he was part of a magical experience called The University of Tennessee

It’s more than just a day of fun. 

You see, when someone like Charley steps onto the court, it’s not really about how many hoops he can make. For Charley, it’s about being part of a team.

It’s about those who see him as a person, not an extra chromosome. And yes, those who are willing to step out of themselves in order to become part of his team as well. (I don't know about you, but the thought that our university team takes time to spend the day with our special needs community gives me hope.)

Thank you, UT athletes. Just thank you.

And then there’s the flirting. And why not? what good is a cheerleader if you can’t flirt a little? Strutting your stuff in front of what he calls his “purty girls” is half the fun. I shamelessly admit that things like this make me swell with pride.

But I’m also humbled. 

My son had the time of his life, assuming his place with the athletes who’s job it is to win trophies and bring recognition for their school.

But not in this case. This time the athletes turned the focus on the participants; people, like Charley, who have the overwhelming task of jumping through hoops in order to be recognized, not for their disabilities, but for their abilities. Today, everybody stood on the court of the abled. There’s a reason they call it Hoops for Hope.

On this day, people like my Charley didn’t fade into the background.

Instead, they were the stars. And it was made possible by the efforts of DSAG (directed by Kelly Johnson) and the UT players who recognize that life isn’t always about them. It’s about confidence-building, and cheering for others. It’s about creating opportunities for others by paying it forward. It’s about standing back and allowing others to take their best shot.

Standing on the court of the abled

Charley, of course, doesn’t know this. All he knows is that he was slapped high-fives by the coaches and athletes, was given a Hoops for Hope T-shirt, and that he walked away with a medal and bragging rights. 

But here is what he does know. For a moment, he wasn’t “That Downs guy.” For a moment he just like everybody else. That’s all he wants, you know.

And for a moment, he was. 

There's a smile for this sort of thing...


Please visit Charley's Facebook page at: Life With Charley - And Down Syndrome

Make sure to watch the  WBIR Coverage - Hoops for Hope

Thanks for visiting!

No comments:

Post a Comment