Isaac is a senior at Union College. He was born in Calcutta, India and moved to the United States when he was a year old. In his free time he enjoys being outdoors cycling and adventuring. The clock finally clicked down to double zero and the game was over. My dad’s basketball team had just won the final game of a long-weekend tournament in Seattle. He came over to the sidelines and took me out on the court with him and his other teammates to celebrate and take pictures.
I was used to this scenario. Not to brag, but dad is definitely a champion. In my mind’s eye, he’s unstoppable. Whether on the court on weekends or on the many church boards he was a part of, he always made a full effort and taught me the power of a good name. He also taught me the importance of a well-knit family. Everywhere I went people knew my dad and spoke highly of him and were proud to be his friend.
The church also forms part of this support network, without which success and optimism cannot be reached. We should support all who have special needs and give them opportunities."
What I haven’t told you is that my dad is disabled. Dad is in a wheelchair. A bullet shot in the middle of a fire fight in Vietnam bruised his spinal cord. He has been in a wheelchair since 1969.
Dad made every effort to be involved in his community and didn’t let a physical disability hinder that. This desire to be a part of the community helped my siblings and me to never gain a negative view of disability. We learned by example. My constant exposure to hospitals and Dad’s wheelchair basketball league taught me a lot about people with disabilities. Each has a unique story. They each have unique struggles, but what I found from those who were successful was that a great attitude and a great support network made all the difference. My parents went out of their way to support each other in their endeavors.
I’ve learned that the family is the go-to, the biggest part of the network. They’re there to do what needs to be done in both the good and bad times. The church also forms part of this support network, without which success and optimism cannot be reached. We should support all who have special needs and give them opportunities. Also, we need to support the family that is supporting the person. It’s a two-faceted thing: the individual and the family need different types of support, but both are vital.
Sometimes we didn’t always feel welcome when visiting other churches, but in reality those members might merely not have known how to act around him. In keeping with the attitude of the “unstoppable,” he usually brushed that off. I’ve never seen something bother him too much. He has always been comfortable with his abilities and the fact that he belongs to a church that gives him the support and the opportunity to be successful.
Mom received weird looks ever so often, and people questioning why she married my father, but I’m not aware of any outright discrimination aimed at her. She treats Dad like he was a normal person. Growing up, dad’s wheelchair never factored in. She made sure we knew and respected him as the head of the family.
He’s my dad–first and last. From support to advice, he goes out of his way to give me the best opportunities available.
We all face disability in many forms every day: poverty, illiteracy, mental and physical disabilities. Church members don’t always know how to act around people with these challenges. Jesus’ ministry provides the greatest example of how to act around them and why our church should care about them. He always reached out to those with the many disabilities and looked past their disabilities and into their character, drawing them to Him, and in turn, putting them on a path to success. Random thought...Who is my family?