An Inspiration for Us All

A few weeks ago a story on the nightly news highlighted another exceptional person with Down syndrome. This time it was a basketball player.

James Meiergerd is eighteen years old and a senior from West Point, Nebraska. He has Down syndrome and he loves basketball. James has received a lot of attention recently because he was able to hit a no-look, backward shot from half-court during halftime at a recent school game. It was captured on video and has been featured on many news programs.

ABC’s David Muir featured James on his program twice. The first time the viewer was able to see the shot, but they also got to hear his teammates speak about James with nothing but praise.

As I have mentioned before, love and acceptance of special needs children help them excel in life. James is another shining example. Because of the acceptance from his team, his loving spirit helped bring the team together. As one player said, he is the “heart and soul” of the team. And the shot he took was amazing!

Although I don’t know much about his background, I do know from experience that he was allowed to try to play basketball and someone supported him in that endeavor.

As I have mentioned before, love and acceptance of special needs children help them excel in life.

Isn’t that true for everyone? My son played basketball in high school and he practiced everyday. As a single mom I supported him the best that I could and he did get better. Because he didn’t have an encouraging coach, he quit the team. After that he made some bad choices.

Obviously James does have a coach and team that gave him a chance. Just take a look at this video:


That was not the only thing that happened to James. The video went viral and caught the attention of the Harlem Globetrotters. They came to his school and brought a message of inspiration to other students. The amazing thing was that James made that same shot again! I don’t know how many other basketball players could do that!

I love his Facebook page entitled Winner with Down Syndrome. 

He truly is a special young man. One that I will keep following to see how much he will accomplish.

All children need love and acceptance. We were all born with different abilities, but sometimes I think that parents, coaches, or even teachers limit what children can accomplish. With love and encouragement, they may be able to do more than they can imagine. As a former teacher I do know research says all children start school with creativity but as the years go on, creativity is stifled.

In my book As Angel’s Sing Tina’s mother did not hold her back. Because of that she had a normal childhood. She had the ability to sing and her mom encouraged her.  That singing changed lives.

Not all children with Down syndrome have the same abilities, but maybe they can do more than once thought possible. They just need a chance.

I encourage everyone reading this to think of child that might benefit from a mentor. Maybe it is a child with special needs or a child with a single mom. It could be a child whose father is in the service and away from home. So many children out there need support. I’m talking about changing lives.

As a retired teacher, I have seen first hand what children can do if we believe in them and give them a chance. The thing is, what they give back is a wonderful gift you don’t want to miss.

Til next time,

If you are an educator, check out Ken Robinson’s famous talk on creativity.

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