December 17, 2010

In my dreams.....

This is an opportunity every person with special needs should have:

Published in today's Aspen Times:

Dear Editor:

A giant thank-you to all of the coaches and players of the Basalt Longhorns varsity football team. Our daughter, Alex, the team manager, was personally invited to the football banquet by the head coach, the assistant coaches and even some of the boys.

This was Alex's second year managing the team, and she knew her job. Her coach, Carl Frerichs, knew when she needed direction, and most importantly, the boys included her as part of the team from day one. She made sure the water bottles were full, and she retrieved the tee after the kick-offs during the games. After the last game, coach Frerichs gave Alex a bouquet of flowers, and our sweet daughter smiled for a week.

Coach Frerichs really set an example to all of how a teenager with special needs can be part of a team, contributing while gaining confidence and self-esteem. At the recent banquet, Alex was called up to the podium just after the assistant coaches were recognized, to receive her letter. She got the loudest applause of everyone, and her whole body smiled with the recognition. Coach Frerichs spoke of the importance of the team manager and how well Alex had done.

This was a great experience for Alex. She was convinced if she missed practice or a home game she would let the team down. This sense of belonging is something we wish for all of our kids, and especially Alex, who has Down syndrome.

In the four years since we have moved to this valley, our family has been continually blessed by the kindness and the mindful inclusion of the community toward Alex into the activities and daily life here. Thanks again to the players and coaches of Basalt Longhorn football who have enriched our lives.

John and Margaret (Gary) Bender

Word is we made the Coach's week - now was that so hard?

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