Dear President Obama,
I couldn't stay awake last night to watch your TV appearance on Leno, even though I wanted to. I am exhausted to the point of illness for the following reasons:
~ I have spent 38 hours this week showing houses in an economy where I am fully aware that my efforts may never turn into a paycheck.
~ I spent 8 days before that learning to appreciate my country more while I was serving in a 3rd world country to help build a concrete block church so that Haitian refugees can worship God, and playing with kids who do not have toys.
~ I am 11 days from taking my own 2-year-old son with Down syndrome to a hospital to have open-heart surgery to repair a defect that is common among children born with Ds. This surgical repair will make it possible for Shawn not only to live, but to be competitive and active without overworking his heart and becoming easily fatigued.
Mr. President, it is sad that you likened your bowling game to something beneath yourself, such as a "less-than-perfect" individual with physical and/or mental needs trying to be competitive in a sport. The saddest part is that you and others who make such minimalizing comments against some of our world's most incredible and precious people, influences others to think they can do the same, and that it is without pain to the people who are affected. The person with physical and/or mental challenges competing in the S.O. has such drive, determination, hope, joy, spirit, respect, courage, and love. The man with Down syndrome who bowls 3 perfect games in a row, has overcome far more to perfect that ability than any pro competitor earning a gross salary. The Special Olympics track competitor who comes in last has more respect and grace toward his/her winning competitor than anyone competing in the super-human games. The young people training and competing in the Special Olympics are not secretly enhancing their performance by using steriods to cross the finish line, or celebrating with marajuana after signing millions of dollars of endorcement deals. And finally....they don't care. They just want to belong. They want to have fun. They want to be loved, praised, accepted, celebrated, honored, and respected. You know what Barack, their goals are no different than yours, but their hearts are in the right place....even if a surgical repair is required to keep it beating.
Mr. President, my son did not hear what you said. He is 2 years old and he was asleep. But I heard what you said. I watched it back today online. I know you didn't mean to stick your foot in your mouth and you didn't mean to criticize an entire sect of our population. I know that you didn't mean to knock your popularity ratings down a notch and that you didn't desire to offend a single person. I know that you didn't use the word "retarded" and I know that all you really meant to do was to be humble about the fact that your bowling game has room for improvement. Your intention was to show humility and maybe even bring a light-heartedness to your message where the challenges you face as President, and the challenges we are facing today as over-spent, over-extended Americans, could use a little light-heartedness. But you should have known better than to ever make light of a person with special needs. You offended every mother, father, brother, sister, special education teacher, cousin, neighbor, friend, church member, and every other advocate for people with special needs.
I am a mother of 3 incredible boys. But my youngest son with Down syndrome, Shawn...HE will need me FOREVER and I cannot guarantee that I will be here as long as he is here. He may never have the opportunity to earn a living with a respectable salary. He will never be Michael Phelps or Carl Lewis or President of the United States. He may never be televised and celebrated. But his leaking heart is FULL of love and acceptance. His eyes see no discrepancies in a single other human being on this planet. His lips will speak simple and tender truth, because he may never have the capacity to manipulate or lie. His little legs will run the race that is set out for him, even though you might always be able to run faster. And as his mommy, I will run beside him, or behind him, or I will even carry him across the finish line because his joy and the joy of my other children, is my number one priority for their lives, along with teaching them to absolutely love the God that created them, in His perfect image.
You have already apologized. But you did more than offend. You have shown me that you may not be as sensitive as I thought you were. You may be not as intelligent as I thought you were. And you may not be as trustworthy as I thought you were. You didn't just make a regretable remark, you revealed something about your true character. Good luck with that in 2012.
Mother of Future Special Olympic Competitor
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