When Jane Havsy of The Daily Record contacted my son for a phone interview she never knew how much that would mean to our family. Of course, any parent is excited when their child makes the newspaper for an accomplishment but for us it was extra special. Why? Because little did she know Anthony was once in the Special Olympics and a multiply disabled class and now heading to the Meet of Champions which is the most prestigious high school meet in the state of New Jersey with his relay team!
Backing up just a bit The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. From this organization groups have formed locally all the way to internationally. The Special Olympics in Belleville, N.J. where Anthony participated in November of 1999 was an event created which allows Special Education students to compete in Olympic-style competitions.
Ironically, the ribbons from the Special Olympics which I had not seen for years I came across while doing some closet cleaning just three days before my son had headed to the Meet of Champions. Additionally, I also found the brush I used many times to brush my son’s sensitive skin due to his Sensory Integration Dysfunction and the Visual Schedule we used to help him keep us focused and on task to help him live as independently as possible. A chill shivered down my spine.
Moreover, in 2001 when our family moved to Rockaway, N.J. Anthony was placed in the “multiply disabled” class with children with Autism and Down Syndrome where the expectations were very low. However, I believed my son was very capable and was convinced by my research that Anthony was severely dyslexic among having ADHD, Expressive Speech Delays, Sensory Integration Disorder, fine motor delays not to mention his working memory which fell in the second percentile. In any event, this led to a seven year battle with the school district and hundred’s of thousands of miles driven to almost every therapy you can imagine. You name it, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, neuro feedback therapy, vision therapy, Linda Mood Bell Reading program, etc… We did it all.
Our family also had to make a lot of sacrifices along the way too but this story is about my son. He is the real hero because he put the time in and he worked hard. What is hard for the average person can be up to one hundred times harder for him. But amazingly not only has he done the hard work it takes but usually it is also accompanied by his smile that can light up a room.
Anthony is now a sophomore and continues to make honor roll. He also passed a very tough examination to become a swim coach this past summer and made silver times as an individual in every swim stroke in his first year of year round competitive swimming and second year on the Morris Hills High School Swim Team. It is also believed to be the first Morris Hills relay of either gender to ever qualify for the Meet of Champions.
In closing please remember these powerful words,
“You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
― Richard Bach
Yes, From Special Olympics to Meet of Champions. You can make your dreams come true too!
copyright 2011; danadogooder and DMT