As she stood at the podium in front of a packed audience, she confessed she wasn’t sure she could do this.
But once she started, Stella D’Silva was fine. After all, it was a story she knew in intimate detail. It was about her child. It was a success story.
Born with Down Syndrome, Alex had heart surgery as an infant. Despite the limited professional expectations, he spent hours as a preschooler in therapy and learned to sit, stand and walk. By kindergarten, he had surpassed the expectations of a child with Down Syndrome.
His parents had spent countless hours helping him achieve all these feats. They believed – and told Alex – that he could do anything. Look at how much he had done already in his short life. Watching him on stage waving and hamming it up for the crowd and cameras, you believed it too.
But, after all that work, Alex stopped playing with other children. When his mother asked why, the response broke her heart: “I can’t do it,” he said.
Despite all of his therapy, all his determination and all his hard work, he couldn’t keep up with the other kids.
There is nothing worse than hearing your child say he can’t, she said.
Then she found FUNdamentals, a Special Olympics program focused on developing basic sports skills for children with cognitive disabilities. Beyond teaching him skills, it gave Alex a way to connect his friends and peers. Now when they talk about their practices and games, Alex can share his stories.
The event was for the Special Olympics, but this wasn’t a story about competition. This was about a disabled kid getting to be like other kids and letting him – and his family – believe he can do anything.
Isn’t this what every family is looking for? The confidence Alex gained by having something he was good at, something he could talk about, something that was his is invaluable.
There aren’t many avenues for disabled kids to gain that confidence, to be proud of what they do. Let’s hope nights like Limitless will help create more spaces for our kids to believe they can do anything.