by Kris Bardi, Upward Basketball parent

Having a child with special needs has its challenges but also many blessings. Today I saw a blessing, nothing really that he did but how he impacts others. Today my son was playing basketball for a wonderful program called Upward Basketball held at Immanuel Church. My son is not a strong player and kind of follows along and tries to keep up. He loves to play and enjoys it very much. Today during the game, his teammates, one in particular, kept passing the ball to him to shoot. Both his team and the opponent team literally froze when he had the ball and tried to make a shot. I should note that this is midseason and the players are getting more “aggressive” so I cannot help but think the players on both sides held back to allow my son to have a chance. Although he did not make any of the baskets (he was so close a couple of times!), his teammates kept giving him the ball and the opposing team gave him space to shoot.

It warms my heart and gives me hope to see people rise to the challenge to think beyond themselves for another person. Although this game was competitive, the focus was on passing the ball to other teammates, allowing those that haven’t made a basket to try for one and really looking beyond themselves to be more “Christ-like” which is a huge goal of the program.

Today there is so much focus on winning, perfection and being number one. I believe people with disabilities or differences are specially put into our lives to challenge us to be better than that and to think out of the “worldly box” — to look beyond ourselves and to rise to the occasion to act in a way that is contradictory to what the world would expect. I feel we long for that too. We cheer for those who overcome adversity. We love the hero who gives up the glory to do the right thing for another individual. The Cars movie comes to mind, when Lightning McQueen gives up his win to help his competitor, The King, cross the finish line, which left McQueen in third place when he should have won the race. I do love that movie!

I read somewhere that it may be through living with and experiencing others’ “imperfections” that help to “perfect” our character. We are challenged to listen, love unconditionally, sacrifice for others and as a result, develop integrity and character. We then are the ones who are truly blessed by those we think we are helping.

As I said, having a child with special needs has its challenges but it also provides a joy and richness one cannot explain. I am truly blessed. Thank you Panther basketball player #1, Panther teammates and Shockers team for the reminder of what a blessing having a child with special needs is; it was beautiful to see you rise to the occasion and be “Christ-like.”

Your generosity to Accelerate makes it possible for us to partner with God in His work

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