I watched you struggle throughout the morning, using those crutches to maneuver around the pool area. It was quite obvious that merely moving from your chair to the vendor's stand took a lot of effort, but you managed to complete your task. Your friends did not assist you, I know now that you probably wouldn't let them if they had offered.
I, poor judge of people that I am, assumed that you were the brother of one of the swimmers and that you were here to root your sibling on as they competed in the water. I saw that despite you issues with mobility, you were constantly on the move, speaking with friends and other competitors. It must have been exhausting, I could tell you were working so hard.
As I was so absorbed in conversation, I failed to notice you laboriously crutch your way to the starting block, lay your crutches down and be lowered into the water. I didn't hear the race announced or the sound of the starter's horn. I didn't realize anything was out of the ordinary until I heard the cheering of the crowd intensify. I looked up and noticed that something unusual was going on, as everybody in the pool area was watching lane #1.
I moved closer to the pool and could see that the other 7 swimmers had completed their 50 yard sprint and were standing in the water, watching, waiting for you complete your mission and finish the race. As you neared the wall, the sound from the crowd became almost deafening. I know there were people watching to make sure you didn't get into trouble, but their concerns were unnecessary, as you made it safely to the wall.
I had never seen a standing ovation at a high school swim meet until that day. I wanted to congratulate you and tell you how much I admired your strength and your tenacity but I know you just want to be treated like any other kid.
Now, people from all over will know how tough you are and that you have what it takes to prevail. Strong work laddie, strong work.
If you want to know what this kid looks like, grab a dictionary. Look up the word courage. Then try perseverance, tenacity, determination, toughness, grit, guts - you get the picture. Those definitions should paint a pretty good picture of what this kid is.
Then look up inspiration. That's how he affected me.
Thanks for reading,
A humbled Schmoe