This week I drove to Santa Fe, sat in Mutual of Omaha’s traveling van, and in front of a camera started with “My name is Randy, and this is my AHA MOMENT.”
It happened years ago when I recruited twenty students from a mid-school special education class and twenty of their nondisabled peers to bowl together for four Sunday afternoons in a row. This was their first experience with Unified Sports. The first Sunday was quiet and uncomfortable. Although these students walked the same halls, ate in the same cafeteria, and attended the same school functions – they did not know how to be together. They didn’t even know each others’ names.
When I walked into the Bowling Alley the fourth Sunday and marveled at how loud it was and how much fun everyone was having – a mother of a young girl with Down Syndrome pulled me aside. She thanked me for bringing Unified Bowling to their school and proceeded to tell me what had happened as a result of the program. She explained that her daughter’s 13th birthday was during that week and to celebrate, her Unified Partner called and invited her to a movie and a pizza. As tears poured down the woman’s cheeks, she shared that this was the first time in her daughter’s life that anyone from her school had ever called her on the telephone, and it was the first time in her life that anyone other than their family had ever invited her to do ANYTHING.
Those mother’s words were my AHA MOMENT. The truth was I had never invited anyone with a disability to do anything. I knew lots of people challenged with physical and mental disabilities and respected, accepted, and enjoyed them but had never invited them into my social life. I had never created opportunities to do those things that friends do for each other – make each other laugh, challenge the way each other think, keep each other right-sized, and share each others secrets and vulnerabilities. 🙂
Going one step further and forming friendships was my AHA MOMENT, and it changed my life. So what’s stopping you?