I try not label myself the mom of a special needs kid very often. While I am fully aware of it, I try not to let that decide what we can and can’t do all the time. Often, though it limits what we do. There are a few moments in Brett’s life that I remember realizing that his life would be different. One was about 13 years ago. He was almost 2 and we were playing in a gym. There was another family there who we didn’t know and their kids were playing with a ball. They weren’t much older than Brett. Brett has always loved balls. As I was helping Brett, with a burp cloth under his arm pits, so that I could hold him up as he tried to “walk” around and play with the balls and kids. I started to cry because it hit me that he would not be like the other kids.
Last night I had that realization shattered and I cried tears of joy on the way home. All I can say is Thank You Brett for never giving up and THANK YOU ISSAQUAH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS and staff.
A week ago Brett had a note come home from school saying that during Homecoming week they were going to have a basketball game for the kids in the Special Needs Class (LRCII) where they got to play with the varsity kids. Brett was all in. This past spring/summer Brett and Hansen, his caregiver, would take the basketball and head to the neighbor’s basketball hoops to play pick up games. We talked and counted down the days until the game. I had asked his teacher how it worked and she didn’t know. They have Special Olympics Basketball over the winter so Brett had been practicing with his PT bounce passes, so he knew he was ready!
Last night when we arrived at the school, Brett just about ran to the gym at school when he got out of the car. There was nothing stopping him from getting to the game. We arrived at 6:00 and the gym was mostly empty. There were a few kids there and a couple of girl basketball players. They had uniforms for Brett to put on. He didn’t want it over his shirt – he just wanted the uniform on. It was huge and he didn’t care. He has the skinniest arms, but they have the best muscles ever, though.
As I sat in the bleachers I noticed they had made signs for all the kids who were playing. 5 boys were playing basketball and the two cheerleader’s. As the pep band started to file in I had the feeling this could be a great night. Then in walked the cheerleaders. How cool to see the two girls in Brett’s class dressed in uniforms and surrounded on each side by other cheerleaders. They were in heaven!
The girl and guy basketball players started to warm up with Brett and his classmates. Each team had a couple of girls/guys basketball players from the varsity teams.
Brett’s team had 3 kids from his class and the other team had 2. I watched as more and more kids arrived as it got closer the 6:30 start time. Parents and teachers came in. The ref’s arrived and the excitement grew. Each of the teams had a “Coach” and they had water bottles for each of the players. At 6:30, the turned off the music and the announcer introduced the teams. As they announced the kids names – the kids raised their hands, strutted their stuff and came to front and center to the cheers of the fans.
That would have been enough to make Brett’s night. The night only got better from there.
They had a jump ball and the fun began. The varsity kids gave the ball to the kids. The kids ran it down and shot. They did everything possible to help the kids. As each of the 5 kids from Brett’s class had the ball the whole audience would chant their names. If the ball didn’t go in – the rebound was usually given right back to the kids. The lanes were wide open. I learned a few things about Brett – he is a point guard.
When their team got to throw in the ball from under the basket or if they had gotten the rebound, there was Brett telling them to give him the ball. He made sure they knew that he wanted it.
Thankfully the other two kids on his team were okay with that. Brett learned as the night went on that maybe he could actually pass it to his friends. The ref’s could call fouls on the other team when Brett needed a chance to make a shot.
Then they would “find” every reason why Brett should get an additional shot so that he could get another try to make a basket.
They had cheerleaders performed at half time.
The student section would do their chants and the band would play during quarter breaks.
Brett played for 20 of the 24 minutes of the game. He ran up and down the court to the roar of the crowd.
He made a basket.
He threw the ball into the game.
He congratulated his team mates when then made a basket.
He was living the dream.
When the game ended, my heart was touched by what I saw happen next. The kids in the stands flooded the gym floor to congratulate the kids. Then they made a bridge line for the kids to run through. It went from one side of the gym to the other and then turned and went half the length of the gym. They did that for the 5 kids. If you look close you can see his green shorts and camo among all the legs and arms.
Brett was in heaven. Brett hung out with his friends and talked to people for the next 10 minutes.
I stood in the stands grateful beyond belief that a school would care enough about 5 basketball players and 2 cheerleaders to give them the night of their life. Brett was walking on cloud nine. A couple of times during the game I reflected on what a miracle it was that Brett’s could physically play 20 minutes of a basketball game. It was only 2 years ago this weekend that we knew that he was going to have hip reconstruction surgery. How those long months of recover were worth it for this.
As we left the school, kids all along the way to the car kept calling out to Brett telling him good game. He just smiled and smiled. In the car, he couldn’t stop telling me all about the game and how he was going to get to play more basketball when bowling is over. I started to cry out of joy for the kindness and love this school has shown to Brett in the short one month he has been there. That night was the greatest night of Brett’s life, which made it one of the never forget moments of mine. How different and how amazing from the night in a gym 13 years ago when I was sad for Brett and for all that he was going to miss in life. Not this kid – IHS students and staff made sure that for him and his friends, they were among the greatest Basketball players. Thanks for giving Brett something that I could never give him – a chance to be a SUPERHERO for a night. You are all SUPERHERO’S in my mind.
And like all superhero’s and athlete’s, when he got home his knees hurt, he had a blister on his foot and he was exhausted. Welcome to being a superhero Brett!