Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday's Making a Difference

CHS Class of 1987
25th Reunion - September 2012
This weekend was my 25th high school reunion. Wow. How can I be that old??? We drove from Atlanta and central Illinois and enjoyed a fun weekend chatting it up with long lost friends and even went on a tour of our old high school. It was pretty low-key with, surprisingly, very little stress. None of that comparing resumes and bragging on accomplishments that seems to happen at other reunions. Thank goodness we've grown up a little.

Today's Making a Difference is about a former classmate, John. How can someone I haven't seen in 25 years and barely communicate with on Facebook make a difference? Easy. John shaped my early impressions of what it was like to have a disability because he is disabled.

I met John for the first time in high school. I honestly don't know if his family just moved to the area or if we simply went to different middle schools. Either way, we got to know each other in marching band, although exactly why, I'm not sure. He played trumpet and I did flags (now usually referred to as "color guard"). Moreover, John wore leg braces on both legs and walked with a pretty severe limp.

I think it is amazing that he had the courage and determination to perform in the marching band given his circumstances. Looking back on it with older eyes, a wiser mind, and an experienced heart (having a child with a physical impairment), I see him in a new light. His character was and is remarkable. He was always smiling, worked hard and never saw himself as different (at least not to outsiders).

John at our 25th High school Reunion
September 2012
Today, he seems to be the same wonderful person. He has worked in the field of education (not as a teacher) for years while his wife (his high school sweetheart and our fellow classmate) taught special education at our old high school, but now teaches at a Catholic school. They have several kids together and he sounds like a great father with a solid foundation of faith in God.

When we connected on Facebook a couple of years ago, I told him about Brielle and how thinking of him when Brielle first got leg braces when she was 18 months old made it easier. When I saw him this weekend, I again told him how knowing him in high school made dealing with some of the issues with Brielle easier and he really inspired me as a parent. I had to hold back some tears as I talked to him about the difference he made in my life parenting Brielle. He seemed touched and honored, but, typical for John, terribly modest.

He was a blessing in my life in high school as a friend and touched my life in ways that neither of us would know for years. Amazing person. Thanks, John, for making a difference in my life those many years ago and the impact it's had on me as a parent!

*Miss a previous "Making a Difference" entry? Just check them out here!

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