A few weeks ago I read one of Jeff’s posts about a young man with disabilities who was a member of a marching band. It reminded me of a story I read about in our local paper a number of years ago.
A young man of high school age had cerebral palsy. He wanted to be a member of his school’s marching band. This didn’t seem to be a problem, as he had someone who pushed his wheelchair in parades. Then the band began to include some intricate moves in order for a chance to win in field competition, and now this young man could possibly hold them back from their ultimate goal of collecting a trophy. They wanted him to sit on the sidelines and play from there.
A neighbor and I got into a discussion about this issue as it was being played out in the papers. She asked me, wouldn’t I be upset if my kids had worked really hard and were being held back from a possible trophy because of a person with a disability? I answered that I was pretty certain that my kids wouldn’t want to participate unless this young man could part of the group.
To this day, I don’t know who eventually won that trophy. I know that the band in question was not from the school district in which I live, but I cannot remember which district it was. I’m not even sure if the young man got to participate or not. Still, it leaves me with questions. At what point is winning not the most important thing? Are there greater lessons to be learned than perfect formations and hitting all the right notes? Is it better to be remembered for what we won, or how we treated our friends along the way? Should we reach out to those for whom life may not be so easy, or should we reach out for a chance at that brass ring, no matter whom we have to knock out of the way to get it?