Thursday, October 14, 2010

Who needs legs to dance?

I've got another "amazing kid" story. This is why I love my job.

This summer I met a beautiful young girl at a festival in western Kansas who was tooling around the fair grounds in a wheelchair. She had no legs below her knees.

As I started my show, I spotted her in the crowd, and she was bopping to the music as she sat in her chair. When it came time to choose kids to be in a band, she eagerly raised her hand. I couldn't pass her up. She wheeled up and took an instrument with the rest of the kids.

I was singing "Buggy Hop," which has a part that invites the kids to "hop, hop, hop" and "jump, jump, jump." I suddenly became really self-conscious about singing those lyrics since there was a kid right in front of me who clearly couldn't jump like the rest.

Fortunately, I couldn't have been more right. Indeed, she couldn't jump like the rest. She jumped better than the other kids. She grabbed the arm rests of her wheelchair and pushed down with all of her might, and she launched her little body right out of her seat. She doesn't need legs to dance!

I watched her the rest of the day at other performances, and she enthusiastically participated in all of them. Back in our "green room" tent, many of the other performers talked about how moved they were by her spirit.

Yesterday, I met this same girl again. I was playing at an elementary in Hays, Kansas, and I chose her to be in a band without realizing that she was the same girl, since I was in a town hours from where we first met. But she rolled up to me and smiled and asked, "Do you remember me?" Her twinkling eyes gave it away.

"How could I forget you?" I said. And, again, she rocked out to "Buggy Hop", and she danced better than all the rest. And I say that not just because she did it without legs, but because she had a huge grin on her face and lacked the self-consciousness that I could read on the faces of so many of the others. At age eight, she knows who she is, and she's proud of who she is.

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