I got an email this morning that struck a chord with me. It was one of those forwarded “pass me along” emails that I usually look right past. Today was different, and I decided to open this one, still not sure why.

I’m glad I did though, because I liked the story it told quite a bit. So I’ve decided that rather than sending it out to my address book like so many people do, I’d post it here. Read if you like because true or not, it’s a damn fine message.

“At a  fund-raising 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!

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOT NOTE TO THIS STORY:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a  second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices,  people hesitate.

The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely  through cyberspace, but public discussion about decency is too often  suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If  you’re thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you’re probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren’t the ‘appropriate’ ones to receive this type of message Well, the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a  difference..

We  all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the ‘natural order of things.’

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little  spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave  the world a little bit colder in the process?

A wise man once said  every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst  them.”

-Author Unknown

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