Typically, when people find out you have a child with special needs there tends to be this awkwardness between you. They don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to act. Now, I always tell people, “Please don’t feel sorry for us. We are a family just like your family. We have really great days, and we have really crappy days… just like every family in the history of the earth. But… one of the things our journey with Will has taught me is how to view the way we celebrate as a society. You see. We celebrate stuff too. We typically just celebrate different stuff than other people… and that’s just fine… I’ve learned you can learn a lot about people and companies by what or who they celebrate. It’s one of the great gifts Will has given us.
Anita Pilarski understands what I mean. I don’t know Anita, but after this weekend I feel like I do… I feel like a whole lotta people do.
And just as I did at Rantoul High School 30 years ago, on Friday night Anita’s son, Joel, celebrated his Senior Night for the Eagles, Rantoul’s high school basketball team.
As Anita wrote on Facebook, Joel’s been the manager of the varsity basketball team for 4 years, but Friday night, Senior Night, he dressed for the game and with a 1:30 to go, he entered the game, and with time running down… Hollywood screenwriters took over…
Joel scored the last bucket, but who won the game? He did. His mom Anita did. Man, we all did. The coaches and those players – from both teams – and the fans and friends storming the court or standing in the bleachers or watching, liking, sharing this video. Thanks, Joel, for giving us all a good day… for giving us all something worth celebrating.
Evidently, Joel knows everything about basketball. Usually, he’s the first to practice/games and the last one out and, like his Mom wrote, he deserves a shout out for all his hard work over the years. So do you, Anita. So do you, Coach. So do you, teammates and referees and players on the opposing team who demonstrated grace and class and made us all very proud for the content of their character.
But this is your moment, Joel, and we are celebrating you, sure, for the basket you made, but more for being the first one there and the last one to leave and for all your hard work for four years. We are celebrating you for your love of the game.
We are celebrating you for reminding us that there are no limits to what greatness can be.
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