The Least Of These Are His
- Stacie Hawkins Adams <i>Contributing Writer</i>
- 2004 11 Nov
The girls were cute, in their various-colored vests, matching pleated skirts and pristine white sneakers. All of them had their hair up in curly pony tails. Most of them smiled as they took their brief places in the spotlight and stood before a panel of judges. They ranged from ages 3 to 10.
For most of the morning, my husband, son and I had sat in a gym full of other parents and spectators watching our daughters chant, kick, jump and dance their hearts out as part of an annual cheerleading competition.
The parents of each squad sat together to applaud and cheer loudly when their girls took the floor. When other cheerleaders performed, they typically remained politely silent.
Then a particular squad took center stage. Many of us gasped when we saw one of the cheerleaders struggle to reach her position, with the aid of her walker. It took her a while, because as she moved one way, her feet seemed determined to move the other.
She kept smiling, though, until she reached her designated spot. As her teammates kicked and jumped, she held onto her walker and raised her feet off the ground. When they moved sided to side, she raised her hands and attempted to do the same.
At one point, she released the walker and fell to the floor to assume a special pose. Her teammates gathered behind her to do a stunt, lifting a few girls in the air. The smile remained on her face. She seemed thrilled to be in the competition.
Many of us who had been reserving our praise for our own girls, found ourselves cheering this team on, too. Whether or not they won the competition (they placed second), they had become winners in many of our eyes for embracing a child whose differences could have been an excuse to leave her on the sidelines.
My heart went out to the girl's mother, wherever she was in the gym. She had to be proud of her daughter, yet also thankful that this child wasn't afraid to stand before hundreds, knowing all eyes would be fixed on her.
As the girl slowly left the competition floor, I thanked God for allowing her to be a blessing. She may never know it, but I'm certain that her courage that morning helped a family in the audience see what God can do despite a child's disability.
Maybe a child who has longed to come out of the shadows will now have his or her chance to shine. Maybe a mother will realize that even with special needs, her child has a lot of potential.
My daughter was disappointed that her team placed fourth in the competition. I know, however, that in watching the cheerleader with the walker perform her best, she received a greater prize.
Stacy Hawkins Adams is the author of the Christian fiction novel Speak To My Heart. She is also a reporter and inspirational columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia. Stacy often speaks to audiences about the blessings that come with authentically living one's faith. She and her husband, Donald, have two children.
This article originally appeared on Crosswalk.com's weblog page.