Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whippet for Life


This blog post is brought to you by Noah's Dad.  Hi, everyone!

For the last several years, Susan and I have taken Noah to a bunch of home Shelby boys basketball games.  I've been asked several times why we do this.  It's simple, really, and not so simple all at the same time.

I love basketball.  I have since I was a kid.  I was never much of a basketball player, though.  I tried it out in junior high, but by the time I was a freshman (all those years ago at Buckeye Central), I knew that music was what I was good at.  So then I attended basketball games as a member of the pep band. 

Susan and I were blessed with two daughters before Noah was born.  Neither one turned out to be athletically inclined.  They were, however, blessed with talent for music.  That made me very happy.

Then Noah was born.  And even though the events surrounding his birth were odd and problematic, all I could think of was, "It's a boy!  I can't wait to teach him how to throw a ball, shoot a basketball, play piano, fly a kite..." and all the other things that I'm sure run through the heads of Dads everywhere. 

As time went on, Susan and I realized that Noah was atypical.  When he was finally diagnosed with Trisomy 8 and cerebral palsy, we knew that my hopes and dreams for a sports kid would never be realized.  It took me a bit, but I became okay with that.  It's not about what I CAN'T do with Noah, it's about all the things I CAN do with him.  And one of those things is taking him to basketball games.

The young men playing basketball for Shelby this year, both junior varsity and varsity, are close to Noah's age.  These are the guys Noah would be playing basketball with, if circumstances were different.  It's very easy for me to close my eyes during a game, and while I'm listening to the sounds of shoes squeaking, basketballs dribbling, and the crowd cheering, imagine Noah out there making a pass, setting a pick, making the last-second shot. 

I've come to realize that these young men, whether they realize it or not, are helping me live out my "sports dad" fantasy. 

Now, I don't know any of the players parents.  I wouldn't know them if I saw them.  I'd love to meet them all and let them know what their sons mean to me, and how their boys are helping me even though I'm sure they have no clue of it at all.  Maybe, hopefully, some of the parents will read this blog post and introduce themselves to Susan and me at a game. 

The coaches and players have taken a shine to Noah over the years we've been taking him to the games.  I don't know how it began, but at every game, one of the players gives Noah a gift.  Noah's gotten sweatshirts, t-shirts, pennants, blankets, spirit towels, autographed basketballs.  This year, Susan has been making cookies for the teams for each home game.  We've had several of the players comment to us how much they like the cookies.  Believe me, that makes it all worthwhile. 

This last weekend, Noah was given a wooden sign (pictured above) that Shelby athletes are given to put in their yard.  We are honored to put this sign in our yard for all to see.  Noah is a Whippet.  "Thank You" just doesn't seem like enough of a term to convey how proud Susan and I are to have this sign in our yard. 

Thank You to all the coaches, players, parents, and other Shelby fans who have taken even a short moment to stop and say hi to Noah at a game.  Every "hello" is one more step to Noah being accepted as just another boy.  And that's all Susan and I have ever wanted for him.  There's been way too much staring over the years.  Our hope is that Noah is visible enough for most, kids and adults alike, to realize that he's not that different from anyone else. 

I get the feeling I've rambled through this post long enough.  If you take anything away from this (other than that I'm a long-winded writer), please let it be this:  Acceptance, tolerance, and unconditional love is easier than you think.  Just look at Noah... he loves everyone, no matter what. 

So please, if you see us out with Noah at a game, or out and about, please feel free to stop and say hi.  That makes our day, and Noah's, so much brighter.  It may seem like a small thing to most folks, but to us, it's like gold. 

God bless you.  God bless Noah.  God bless the Shelby Whippets. 




Jason said...

I recently read the blog and it was an awesome blog. I'm a Shelby native and a Shelby graduate that's in a wheelchair. While I was attending Shelby Senior High School I was a manager and athletic trainer for the boys varsity and junior varsity basketball teams. I know the joys of going to the basketball games. in about my five yrs of helping out the team while I was in high school and college I only missed two practices and no games. I would really like to meet Noah some day because he seems like an awesome young man. Have a great evening. If you would like to get a hold of me here is my email address

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your sons story. I am a native of Shelby who my kids know will always be Mommy's home and their favorite place to come to in the summer and holidays.
Shelby is such an amazing small town filled with wonderful people who have a lot of HEART.
I'm sure the coaches and players are learning a lot from your son. The dedication you show to the team and watching the smile on your sons face is so wonderful. I'm so glad the team and families have made your son and family such a big part of the team.

I teach my children to never stare at others and ask questions. My sons teachers cousin has MS and she came to speak at school this year. She is in a wheel chair and has little use of her arms. She explained to the students that although she had multiple disabilities she learned how to live on her own and asked the students to always ask questions. The students loved her and my sons learned a lot about how her Faith in God has helped her through .
My friends son has cerebral palsy, and autism,
My kids are his age and play with him and his twin sister Grace. Wayne can't talk much but is very affectionate and happy to be around the kids. They love being around him even more .
Thank you again for sharing your sons story he's a handsome young man .

Wanda said...

I love to stop and just say Hello because that beautiful smile of his will brighten your day anytime!

Anonymous said...

hi my son dylan use to play with your loving boy in preschool dylan would put up blocks and noah would knock them down and they both would laugh so hard of course that was like 12 or 13 years have a very special boy and his smile lights up a room and i want to thank himfor being in my sons life god bless you,