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THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE



Yesterday, I purchased a 'Hope Chest' for my granddaughter, Chelsey. My wife, Judy had been on me for quiet some time to try to build one, so Chelsey would have a place to keep her special mementos.

Not as young and active as I once was, I decided to purchase a cedar chest. After we got the chest home, I took down an old cardboard box I had been using to store things in that I thought she might like to have when she got older. Near the bottom of the box was the first draft of my book "Orphan." It was about 20 years old and I started to thumb through the pages to see what all I had hand written along the borders.

In one section, I happened across a page where I wrote about inviting a group of handicapped children to spend several hours at my trampoline center located in Modesto, California. I remember calling the school and suggesting they bring the children out to the center for several hours at no charge.

As I did not open the center until 11 a.m., it was suggested that they bring the children to the center at about 9 a.m. That would give them about two hours of jump time.

Well, the children came in several large busses. They were loaded into their wheelchairs and rolled into the fenced area. It was an experience I will never forget as long as I live. Fifteen or 20 innocent children who sat there, somewhat like little zombies - not a sound or movement coming from any of them.

I had 12 trampolines that were built at ground level. Soon there was a motionless child lying on each of them. They just lied there not moving a muscle. Some were missing arms and some legs. Some were not missing any limps at all. Still they just sat or lied there motionless and silent.

"ALL RIGHT NOW, LET'S TRY TO HOLD DOWN ON THE NOISE OUT THERE," I said over the microphone.

Several of the teachers laughed and continued to walk around the area. Still, none of the handicapped children moved a muscle or made a sound. I walked out of the booth and took my shoes off. Then I went up to 'trampoline number one' and walked out onto the mat where a child was lying. I stood over his head and I gave a little bounce - just enough for the child to bounce off the mat about an inch or two. All at once, the child screamed and began to laugh uncontrollably.

All the teachers came running over to the trampoline to see what happened. I was told by one of the caregivers that the child on trampoline number one had never spoken a word or even made a sound his entire life.

The remainder of the two hours was spent with teachers standing over the children gently bouncing them from one side of the trampoline to the other. All you could hear was the sound of children screaming and laughing at the top of their little voices, as though they were on a roller coaster ride to hell.

When the time was up, the children were taken one by one off the trampolines. The sounds the children were now making where not those of crying, but of wailing. There were many happy, drooling little distorted faces leaving that day. There were bouncing little heads, arms and legs. Whatever body part could possibly be moved was now moving.

What I remember most from that experience is that I had always thought I was just too busy to take the time to do something important for someone else. I guess that was the day I found a way to do something important for someone else in the world. I did not use my ‘busy time,’ but a portion my own 'private time.'

Don't we all have just a little of that which we could share with the world, if we really wanted to?



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