Heroes behind the Hereos

My honey sent me a link this morning of a video that first made the YouTube rounds in 2006.  As I watched it, I was poignantly reminded me how powerful simple human kindness and the vision that one person can hold for another who doesn’t fit everyone’s preconceived notions of what a typical student, basketball player or musician is supposed to look like.

I watched this story as if it happened yesterday, because for children who live all over the country who are experiencing both the good and the bad of being labeled special needs, it did happen yesterday, and today, and it’s going to happen tomorrow.  For these children, this video is a perfect reminder that each of us can play a part in the genius that others have to offer, if we are only prepared to throw out our notion of what it is supposed to look like and accept the reality of what it does look like.

And let’s talk about Jason McElwain.  The story in the attached link revolves around a high functioning autistic boy from upstate NY whose unbridled enthusiasm earned him the title of high school basketball team manager. Watching J-Mac, as he was called, one is reminded of the power that connection, inspiration and heart can play when physical or mental limitations are not really limitations at all, but rather, just a mask for the excellence that lies beneath the surface . . . albeit in a different form.

Jason was given an opportunity to suit up and put on a team jersey and though he began tentatively, missing his first two shots, in the last four minutes, he went on to score 20 points including six three pointers and a final shot at the buzzer.  Nobody at his  school had ever seen a display like this and fewer could ever imagine it possible at the graceful hands of an autistic child.

But the coach was willing to give him a chance and eventually his teammates, the crowd and thanks to YouTube, the world, saw what this boy was capable of.

Without overstating the obvious, what really moved me in this story was the role of the grownups in this student’s life, namely his family and his coach.  Isn’t this the sort of incredible spirit and dedication that one would hope for and come to expect from the adults in Jason’s life, not to mention all other on and beyond the spectrum children?  The heroes behind these everyday children are their dedicated educators, coaches, school social workers, music teachers and parents.  They are the true advocates that take the risks, stand up for the truth, break old paradigms and shatter antiquated social and educational conventions.

Though the job of care taking and educating those on and beyond the spectrum isn’t easy, it is one of the most profoundly meaningful and important roles a human being can fulfill in today’s highly mechanized, technology-centric world.

When CBS news reporter Steve Hartman, first presented this story he concluded by saying:

“Because he is autistic, Jason says he is used to feeling different, but never this different, never this wonderful.”

Today the world is more wonderful because of the advocates in the lives of the on and beyond the spectrum children who not only stand behind these amazing children, but who move the mountains in front of them.


5 Responses to Heroes behind the Hereos
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    • Natalia
      June 9, 2012 | 11:34 pm

      Since I tend to just save all my items with missing boutons for when my mom comes to visit – maybe I should take a look at this book! The dandelion wine sounds intriguing as well.

      • Diva-Mama
        August 7, 2012 | 8:50 am

        Hi Natalia,

        I have heard of dandelion wine but suspect, since you came to my site from a link on Mamazina Mag., you were referring to another blog of mine. So do tell!


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