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.