She was a pretty kid, a high school cheerleader, who in most ways, stood out head and shoulders above the rest of the cheerleaders from both schools. She was cheering for the other team at a recent basketball game against our small high school. She was just like all the other girls, dressed in the same uniforms, except, she was in a wheelchair.
She moved her arms and hands in harmony with the other cheerleaders as they voiced their cheers in unison. Her expression was relaxed, free, happy. Sometimes, but not always, when the other girls kicked or jumped as part of the cheers, she made a circular movement in the seat of her chair that didn’t seem different. In fact, it added to what they were doing as a whole.
It was like when the band has a featured twirler in the middle all of the other twirlers. They all do the same thing, but at times, the featured twirler does other tricks or movements. From her chair, she was like that, and to an outside observer, she was the bow that tied all the other ribbons around a gift of friendship, unity and acceptance.
She wasn’t trying to get attention. Far from it. She was just being a part of rooting for her home town team. Yet, those big grey wheels, black chair and her legs that were visibly not the same as the other cheerleaders did draw attention to herself. It wasn’t bad attention, or people gawking in some way, it was in a good way. No, actually it was a great way! She was inspiring, positive, courageous, and except for the wheelchair, normal in every way!
She smiled with the other cheerleaders as they all went through their routines. There was a definite sense of esprit de corps among them and they were a comfortable, natural unit.
It wasn’t an issue that she couldn’t jump. Her heart leaped. It didn’t matter she couldn’t run. She moved others. No one cared she couldn’t be hoisted in the air. She helped others fly. No one saw a crippled, handicapped girl. They saw an angel who walks with God.
There’s little doubt there are times, and people, who rain down sticks and stones about her bones and words that really hurt her. Yet, on she cheers, forward she goes, all steam straight ahead. She shines a unique strength, a power of character that is forever tied to the heart and soul of every victor, every winner, every champion.