Dream Team darlings
by Jennifer Cohron
Sep 05, 2010 | 2152 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
I don’t pretend to be an unbiased reporter. I prefer feature stories because covering hard news requires a detachment that I’ve never developed.

My idea of what is newsworthy sometimes differs quite a bit from everyone else’s.

For example, I was once kidded at the office for putting out an APB on a missing teddy bear. The stuffed animal in question, which had been stolen with some expensive Christmas presents during a break-in, was a gift from the little girl’s late father. I believe it was eventually found.

More recently, I wrote an article about a woman who is casting for a reality show called “Redneck Riviera.” The interview stayed on my tape recorder for weeks because I wasn’t interested enough to write it.

After the story was published, I got calls from producers at a talk radio show and one of the television stations in Birmingham. It was also placed on the AP wire, which means newspapers around the state had the option of printing it that weekend.

I could easily name 10 stories that I’ve done in my three-and-a-half years at the paper that were more fascinating to me than that one.

The centerpiece of today’s front page is near the top of that list.

I’ve followed the Dream Team since their first game last year. I’ll never forget one of the players letting go of his walker as he scored and sat down on home plate, his version of a slide.

I am usually not a fan of political correctness, but I prefer to say that Dream Team players have special needs rather than a disability.

Calling them disabled suggests that they are in some way defective, and there is nothing wrong with those kids. If anything, they are so much better than “normal.”

Some people may wonder why God allows children to be born with conditions like Down’s syndrome or autism.

I don’t believe that their life is a punishment. It’s more likely that they are the chosen ones, sent by God to show us who we could be if not for our sin.

They enjoy every minute of every day they are given. They don’t lie or gossip about friends. They are full of love and joy instead of self-pity, arrogance or hate.

How many of the rest of us can say that?

The Dream Team is about so much more than giving children with special needs a chance to play sports.

One of the mothers that I talked to this week told me that she knew her son’s diagnosis had sometimes been difficult for her other child to accept.

I can understand why. I have an aunt who is mentally disabled. I remember how people used to stare when our family was out together.

Those glares and whispers can’t be easy on a little girl who just wants to fit in but can’t because of her brother.

Thankfully, the mother I spoke with said the Dream Team had helped both of her children. Her son gets to be the star of the show each game, and his sister gets to see that there are a lot of people in this world like her brother so she has no reason to feel ashamed.

Nearly 20,000 people in this county over age 5 have some sort of disability, according to the 2000 census.

They are our neighbors and part of our church family.

They shop beside us in the grocery store and go to school with our children.

They don’t want to be like everyone else. They just want the same opportunities.

The Dream Team is a wonderful program, but it’s not just our gift to them. It’s also their gift to us.