The Everyday Heroes

A lovely story today that Andy shared with me:

Excerpt: “Lil’s from Huntington, West Virginia – most notably known for the tragic 1970-airplane crash that killed 75 people from Marshall University’s football team, coaching staff and supporters. Matthew McConaughey stared in the 2006 film, We Are Marshall, which highlights the rebuilding of the football program and the healing of the community in the years following the tragedy. Like Lil, most of the 50,000 people living in Huntington have been forever changed by this event. But for Lil, it was an apocalyptic flood that turned a small creek into a 44 ft wall of water that swept her uncle’s house away and killed almost everyone in its path. It was at that moment that the young 16 year old made a promise to God that if she survived, she would devote her life to children.

Lil made good on her promise, got her Master’s degree in gifted education, and found herself drawn to teaching learning disabled children. The first day of her class always started with the same introduction, “I’m Lil, welcome to my class. You must be a gifted child because I have my Master’s degree in gifted education, ” and she would place a box of tissues on the table. She could see the look of surprise on the children’s faces…either they were in the wrong class or Lil didn’t know she was teaching a group of ‘disabled’ kids.

She went around the room, holding the box of tissues saying, “Ok, tell me about your disability this one time….but after today we are going to focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” She starts with her own story, telling the children how she is petrified by the water and can’t swim. Then, as each child talks about their disability, and what they believe defines them, Lil pulls out a silver dollar.

She asks each child to hold the silver dollar close to their face and describe what they see. The children depict the coin in detail. Then Lil asks them to walk over to the window and hold their silver dollar at arm’s length. “Now, what do you see?” The student’s reply, “I see trees….I see the sky…..I see Mr. Jones cutting the grass….I see flowers….” She then says to her students, what about the coin? They see it, but they see other things too. They become aware of wonder.” – Kari Stoever

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