Recently I have become involved with an organization called KidSport (refer to Links) which is about removing financial barriers so that all kids can experience the positive benefits of organized sport. The very first Kidsport event I attended was actually a financial donor recognition breakfast held in Vancouver earlier in the fall in which I heard some very inspiring people talk about their experiences and the value of sport for youth in the development of healthy bodies and healthy minds.
I was proud to share with them a story that my wife had relayed to me only the night before about our five-year-old son’s second (ever) hockey practice. I asked her how it went and she said that he was skating better and better each time but that he was also still lying on his back in the middle of the ice quite a bit. In fact there was one drill that the kids were doing in which it appeared that they were skating around him like a pylon as he lay on his back making a snow angel! I honestly found that to be really funny but my wife got me thinking when she pointed out that of the three teams on the single ice surface, you didn’t see any other kid doing that!
In any case, it was an inspiring morning hearing about a woman named Wendy Ladner-Beaudry who was a great champion of KidSport and who was taken from this world shockingly and tragically earlier this year while out for an early morning jog in an as-of-yet unsolved murder case. It was clear that this woman was both loved and respected for who she was and how she lived her life and it was very powerful to hear her husband, Michel Beaudry, speak about her and about what she believed in. It was an honour to be there that morning and it is in her spirit that I dedicate the following story taken from Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention. It’s all about what KidSport stands for which is inclusion and just having fun. From what I heard about Wendy that morning, I think she would have liked this one.
In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Chush fundraiser dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son, Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish, and stilled by the piercing query.
“I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child.” He then told the following story about his son, Shaya.
One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they’ll let me play?” Shaya’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play, it would give him a sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands 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 up to bat in the ninth inning.”
Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play in centre field. In the bottom of the eight inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again, and now had two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?
Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. How ever, as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in , and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of the Saya’s teammates came up to Shaya, and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung the bat, and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in is life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right-fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.
“Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field far beyond the reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.”
But the right-fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.” Shaya ran toward second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases toward home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third.” As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya, run home.” Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate, and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for his team.
“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”