Running Child

Describe a significant interest or experience that has special meaning for you.

Although my tale is about a basketball player, it is not about a six-foot-eleven athlete whose name is splashed across the sports pages of daily newspapers and whose picture graces the tops of Nike and Adidas boxes. Rather, this is a story of one small seven-year-old whom I named “Running Child,” because when he walked, he ran, and when he sat, which was a rarity, he was perpetual motion personified.

Michael, an autistic seven-year-old, was one of the many physically and mentally challenged children who participated in the Special Needs Basketball Challenge, a very special and important sports event. The Running Child was assigned to my station, and I can recall the hopeful look on his face as he tried to shoot the basketball into a hoop mounted on the wall over his head. One shot – missed. Two, three, four – missed. Six shots total, and none went through the basket. Just as we were about to give up on this kid’s bid to be the next Michael Jordan, I then realized all Michael needed was an extra boost. I lifted him high above my head and instructed him to bend his elbows, aim for the net, and push the ball forward. He followed my directions and we both watched as the ball, as if guided by a spirit, went straight into the hoop,...

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