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Save A Life » Shay’s Story

Shay’s Story

At  a fundraising dinner for a school that serves  children with learning disabilities, the father  of one of the students delivered a speech that  would never be forgotten by all who attended.  After extolling the school and  its dedicated staff, he offered a  question:

‘When not interfered with by  outside influences, everything nature does, is  done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay,  cannot learn things as other children do. He  cannot understand things as other children do. Where  is the natural order of things in my  son?’

The  audience was stilled by the query.

The  father continued. ‘I believe that when a child  like Shay, who was mentally and physically  disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to  realize true human nature presents itself, and  it comes in the way other people treat that  child.’

Then he told the following  story:

“Shay and I had walked past a park  where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball.  Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’  I knew that most of the boys would not want  someone like Shay on their team, but as a  father I also understood that if my son  were allowed to play, it would give him a  much-needed sense of belonging and some  confidence to be accepted by others in spite of  his handicaps.

I approached one of the  boys on the field and asked (not expecting much)  if Shay could play. The boy looked around for  guidance 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 in to  bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled  over to the team’s bench and, with a broad  smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a  small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The  boys saw my joy at my son being  accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth  inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was  still behind by three. In the top of the  ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in  the right field. Even though no hits came his  way, he was obviously ecstatic just to  be in the  game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear  as I waved to him from the stands.

In the  bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored  again. Now, with two outs and the bases  loaded, the potential winning run was on base  and Shay was scheduled to be next at  bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay  bat and give away their chance to win the  game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the  bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but  impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to  hold the bat properly, much less connect with  the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to  the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the  other team was putting winning aside for this  moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to  lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and  Shay swung clumsily and missed. The  pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss  the ball softly towards Shay. As the  pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a  slow ground ball right back to the  pitcher. The game would now be  over.

The pitcher picked up the soft  grounder and could have easily thrown the ball  to the first baseman. Shay would have  been out and that would have been the end of the  game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball  right over the first baseman’s head, out of  reach of all team mates.

Everyone from  the stands and both teams started yelling,  ‘Shay, run to first! Run to  first!’

Never in his life had Shay ever  run that far, but he made it to first  base. He scampered down the baseline,  wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled,  ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching  his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second,  gleaming and struggling to make it to the  base. By the time Shay rounded towards  second base, the right fielder had the ball .  The smallest guy on their team who now had his  first chance to be the hero for his  team.

He could have thrown the ball to  the second-baseman for the tag, but he  understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too,  intentionally threw the ball high and far over  the third-baseman’ s head. Shay ran toward  third base deliriously as the runners ahead of  him circled the bases toward home. All  were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way  Shay’

Shay reached third base because the  opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning  him in the direction of third base, and shouted,  ‘Run to third! Shay,  run to third!’ As  Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators,  were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run  home!’ Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was  cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his  team.

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now  rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a  piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t  make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never  forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and  seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the  day!”