THE TRUE SUPERHEROES I grew up believing that football players, successful businessmen, and President Ronald Reagan defined the American hero. While I still love college football, appreciate the economic impact of strong business, and put the “Gipper” at number one on my list of the greatest presidents, my definition of the hero has changed. Today, my heroes tend to be people here in our community. Some examples are the police officer who protects my family, the friend who defines loyalty by taking care of his wife who was victimized by a traumatic brain injury, and the man who takes the hand of the prisoner as he walks into society looking to rebuild his life and make amends for his wrongdoing. There is also a class of people who I view as “superheroes.” These are the children who were born with special needs. The term “special needs” includes a wide range of physical and mental health conditions that some children were born with; bone disorders requiring the use of a wheelchair, cystic fibrosis, heart and lung disease, childhood cancer, Down syndrome, severe learning disabilities, severe behavioral disabilities, and autism. Why are these special children superheroes? While the football star struggles with running a faster 40-yard time and the business owner seeks to become a better leader in his organization, the boy in the wheelchair struggles to get out of the bed in the morning, is stared at all day, and knows he will never walk like “normal” people. When I see this little boy smile at me with confidence in the grocery store, I know I am looking into the eyes of a superhero. While many parts of west Georgia are blessed with caring teachers, therapists, and other resources, there is still a high level of ignorance and rejection regarding children with special needs. The display of ignorance and rejection is more focused on children with mental health needs. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection and imperfection. No one is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and lack of love; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear. That’s the choice in our personal lives. That’s the choice in our life as society. “The Script” wrote a song called “Superheroes.”
“Superheroes” begins with the story of two children who come from very rough beginnings. The song describes the development of a young boy. “All his life he’s been told he’ll be nothing when he’s old. He won’t ever let it show. He’s stronger than you know. A heart of steel starts to grow.”
The rest of the song goes on, “When you've been fighting for it all your life, you've been struggling to make things right, that's how a superhero learns to fly.”
Superheroes push through whatever circumstances present themselves at a young age and throughout adulthood. As the song goes, “a heart of steel starts to grow.” Nothing pleases God more than to see His special children take flight and become superheroes. Amy was born autism. From the age of four, she always knew she was different. She fought, struggled, and became full of anger. She could not “fix” what was wrong with her. One day, her mother told her that being different is ok. We are all different with different challenges in life.
With acceptance, a loving family, and God’s direction, Amy would overcome her life barriers. She battled and defeated those who placed artificial barriers in her way. She did not allow society to determine what she would or would not be. Amy became a lawyer who specialized in the advocacy for the people without a voice; those with special needs and disabilities.