Gratitude for Another’s Kindness

I caught a glimpse of this story, and since it’s the time of year for gratitude and thanksgiving, I wanted to share it with you. A young teen with cystic fibrosis wanted to play on the football team at his local high school in the mid-West. The football coach had noticed him, for the teen attended every practice and showed up for every game. The young man knew every play and was even able to suggest other strategies to outfox the opposing team. Although physically handicapped, he was accepted by the team. And they knew his secret: he wanted to make a touchdown. In spite of being confined to a wheelchair powered by a joystick, his dream was to live unstuck.

His moment finally came. During the game, the team agreed he would take the next play over the line into the end zone. His teammates enthusiastically blocked for him. They tackled for him. They cleared the way so this young man could experience what it was like to make a touchdown. When he wheeled over the line, he was ecstatic. Hands in the air, laughing and smiling: he felt the joy of being a team player. And his team celebrated with him. They were living unstuck too.

But the ones most grateful for this opportunity were the young man’s parents. They had tears in their eyes when they explained to the team what this prime-time event meant to their son. And as they talked about his hopes and aspirations, the fact he felt he could never actually make a TD, his teammates started to rub their eyes and look at the ground. They were touched by the parents’ gratitude. By the acknowledgment of kindness toward their son. They also were living unstuck.

Despite what commercials would have us believe, holidays are not always pleasant for everyone. Perhaps there has been a death in the family. Or a divorce. Or a job loss. Or a change in health. Or a recent move away from family and friends. Kindness toward others and our gratitude when it’s shared is a good way to go for this time of year. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant. Maybe a smile to a stranger or a hug for a friend. Perhaps sharing a joke when in line at the local store or an anonymous gift of cash to someone in need. It doesn’t take much to share kindness and be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving. Live unstuck. #Unstuck Living

I look back with a mix of emotions: sadness for the people who are gone, nostalgia for the times that have passed, but immense gratitude for the wonderful opportunities that came my way.

—Dick Van Patten

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