An ex-colleague of mine sent me an email that literally brought tears to my eyes that I thought I would share. Its not the email that made me tear up, but it was the message that was attached in there.
At a fund raising 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
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 eighth 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!