When this story came to my attention, my heart was so moved and filled with so much compassion and love that I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.
In reading this story, it reminds me of the love that God has for us, in spite of all of our sins and imperfections. He created us to be people of love and compassion, not people of negativity and evil. God gave us the agency of free will—the prerogative to make our own choices in this life that He gave us. Life is full of choices, some easy and some difficult. However, the choices are ours. Each choice we make takes us down a path of light or darkness, depending on what choice we make.
I hope you are as moved by this story as I was.
Oh, by the way, you may want to have some tissues handy, you might need them.
President and CEO
Truth and Knowledge Research Institute
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the children delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: “When not interfered by outside influences, everything nature does is done in perfection. Yet, my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things for my son?” The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. “I believe that when a child like Shay, who is mentally and physically disabled, comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and comes in the way people treat that child.”
Then he told the following story. “Shay and I had walked past a park where some of the boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked. ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father, I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps. I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we will put him to bat in the ninth inning.’
“Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.
“At this juncture do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given a bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher recognizing that the other team was putting the winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would be over now. The pitcher r picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would be the end of the game.
“Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stand and from both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’ Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second! ‘ Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran toward second, gleaming and struggling to make to to the base.
“By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team who now had his chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions, so he too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the base toward home. All were screaming. ‘Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’. Shay reached the third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him toward the direction of third base, and shouted ‘Shay, run to third!’
“As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’ Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.
“That day”, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.”
Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten the day that he was a hero.
—Nancy Hunter, Galesburg, IL
—Reprinted by permission of The Master’s Work Ministries, Portland Oregon