Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hometown Hero

     Yesterday brought quite a surprise to our little gal when during her final class of the day, a camera man and reporter entered the room and announced that Mary Lapsley Daly had been selected as the "Hometown Hero."
      She was shocked.
      Very shocked.
       "Hometown Hero" is a feature story sponsored by CN2 News. Local "heros" are nominated by individuals and the news channel runs a spotlight story about them, which later airs on the cable network.  I had been warned something was up the day before as I was putting Sissey's walker in the back of the car after class. As I was slamming the tailgate of the car shut, one of her former professors walked up and whispered in my ear to make sure that Mary Lapsley was dressed in "something cute" the next day.  When I asked her why, she hurriedly told me that Sissey had been selected as the "Hometown Hero" but they wanted it to be a surprise and were going to make the announcement during her PAL class the next day.  She was giving me the heads-up to make sure Sissey didn't arrive in jeans and a sweatshirt for her big interview.  I wasn't quite sure what the "Hometown Hero" was, but told her I would make sure she was dressed appropriately.
     Of course, Little Miss Big Ears in the car, she-of-the-eye-who-never-misses-a-trick,  had naturally spotted me talking to Tracey and asked as soon as I got in the car, "What was that all about?"
     I had to think quick to cover the plot.
     "Oh, nothing, she was just asking how your classes are going this semester. She said to tell you that they are going to have to retake the pictures for the PAL class tomorrow so be sure to wear something nice."
      "But we already took the pictures," Sissey said.
      "They didn't come out right. You have to do them over." I replied.
      She bought my story and asked no more questions.  After all, it didn't take much to convince Sissey to "wear something cute."
     She entered class yesterday afternoon dressed in her favorite black Boden dress, wearing a killer pair of boots, looking, I must say, very cute, and immediately noticed that everyone else in class was wearing jeans and sweatshirts. She shot me a puzzled look.  I quickly plopped her backpack down and left the classroom before she could ask any questions, telling her I had to run a quick errand and would be right back. I scooted out of there as fast as I could before I spilled the beans and ruined the surprise.
      So the ploy worked, and our gal was very, very surprised when the reported announced that she had been selected as the "Hometown Hero."  She was also very, very mad at me for not telling her and very, very embarassed that she had been selected.
     "I'm not a hero, Mom. I just an ordinary person. They shouldn't have picked me.I haven't done anything," she said as soon as we got in the car.
     Oh honey, I thought, you have no idea. It doesn't take a big person to be a hero, it just takes a big heart. She may not think she's a hero, but just watching her everyday, watching her work so hard to get this degree, to overcome challenges that most people will never face, and to do so with a smile on her face and a kind word for those she meets, that makes her a hero in my book.
     Of course, I am her mom, and I am extremely biased. But I think that anyone who lives with a disability, anyone who wakes up each day to face challenges most of us will never understand,  anyone who faces those challenges with grace and humor and a heartful of compassion for their fellow man...that is what makes a hero. And I see a whole lot of heros out there in this world. They may not get their fifteen minutes of fame or a spot on a local news show, but they are out there every day, setting the example for the rest of us about how to live a life of joy and compassion in a broken world.
    They are my heros.

("Hometown Hero" will air Tuesday, Feb. 23. It can be viewed on CN2's website as well!)


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