Early on in my involvement with Special Olympics I remember someone telling me how sad it was that parents whose children are born with developmental disabilities are robbed of feeling proud of their kid. This morning I was thinking about that statement, so I contacted two of our Special Olympics parents to find out if they were proud of their kid – and if so – why?
Joe Lisenbee, father of Special Olympics athlete Taylor Lisenbee, backed me up to the very beginning, when soon after his son’s birth, he and his wife Debra spent four days in the hospital waiting to hear from the doctors. This is what Joe told me: “They called us into a room and told us that our son would never be able to do anything. We took him home and the more I thought about those words, the madder I got. Taylor has never said much, but he speaks through his actions. One thing that I love about him is that whenever there is controversy between people, and he’s in the room, he simply turns and walks away. When it’s over and everyone gets right again, he shows back up and gives everyone a hug. Taylor has never in his life given anyone any trouble. Think about that. I am very proud of my son.”
Gena Hankins, Mother of late Special Olympics athlete Brooke Hankins had this to say: “Brooke was a true champion in every sense of the word. Her strength, stamina, determination, drive, and endurance amazed all of us time and time again. And to go through life without complaining, and usually with a smile on her face, made her even more awesome. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. She taught us so many valuable life lessons. Mike and I got to parent an angel for 23 years. What a blessing.”
Proud of their kid? Absolutely, and in the most beautiful way.