On a side note, I received this from a friend of mine who is a speech pathologist. It is circulating among the different Texas school districts.
This is a letter written by Gracie's Aunt:
I want to share a true story about Gracie.
She was born with Down’s syndrome. At 3 she was diagnosed with Leukemia with little chance of survival.
Half way thru her cancer treatments she died….for 20 minutes.
Once revived, she had severe brain damage and was unable to move. She could not finish the cancer treatments. We did not think she would ever be able to even smile again. We feared the Cancer may return.
Presently, she cannot stand or walk, nor feed herself. She cannot speak. She is dependent on loving attentive family and caregivers.
But she can smile! And she shines with uncompromising Light.
Gracie attends a class AA Texas High School with over 3200 students. 800 in her Senior Class.
She was selected as the representative for her Life Skills Class for Homecoming court, along with dozens of other nominees at the school. FFA, Science Club, Cheerleaders, Debate Team, Drama….over 45 were also nominated and honored by their respective groups.
A week ago Friday, Gracie was honored again and selected to be 1 of 6 Homecoming Court members. That was an amazing night. My brother’s (Gracie’s DAD) perspective is attached. Please scroll and read his emotions as the entire crowd roared to welcome Gracie to the top 6.
Last Friday night, Gracie dressed for the game and Homecoming ceremony in her pink tights, sequenced high top tennis shoes and beautiful dress. My brother rolled his 18 year old daughter on to the field between ROTC swords, swirling flags and thousands of cheering students to hear the final vote for Homecoming Queen to represent Georgetown High School .
“GRACIE KILTZ" ……………and thousands did what Gracie will never be able to do.
They stood and clapped and cheered for their Queen.
And she smiled.
If I could speak, these might be my very words….to the students of GHS
I was blown away Friday night when you chose to crown my friend Jared and I as GHS’S Homecoming King and Queen. One thing you might now know is over 15 years ago, my heart stopped beating for 20 minutes and left my body broken and my brain injured. None of the doctors believed I would live much less ever smile again. So when God chose to give me back my smile I knew I would always have to share it with who ever was nearby.
When you grow up different than most kids in the world, you begin to adjust and understand those differences might not ever be accepted or celebrated but even less likely to be honored. Jared and I have never been recognized as we were on Friday night. We will never forget what it felt like… the lights, the band, the thousands of students cheering us on; it was our first true moment of acceptance and love from everyone collectively. Even if I could speak I would never be able to fully express or think you would fully understand the significance of what you did. When my name was announced I felt the magnitude of God’s love for me through the choice that you made.
You chose to honor Jared and me in a way that we could never have attained or accomplished on our own. You looked beyond our weaknesses and differences to sweetly bless us in a way that was more a reflection of your character than anything else. This past Friday, GHS stood out in a way that will be remembered for many years to come not only by Jared and me but by everyone who witnessed it from the stands. GHS you set an example for the younger generation that could only wonder why you didn’t pick the most beautiful or most popular girl and guy. Your vote might begin to teach those younger to place value on all people no matter whether they are able to attain straight A’s or just give the gift of a smile. I ask that each of you will continue to go out of your way to interact with students like us….we crave that encouragement from you! Don’t worry how we respond, it will probably be different than what is comfortable but don’t stop…you make us great! Peer Buddies you truly do lift the students of CBI high on Eagles Wings…thank you for choosing to hang out with students like us.
And finally to my teachers….thanks for always believing not only in me but also in every “special” student in CBI. Without each of you and your contagious love, this would have never happened. Your daily patience with each of us keeps us striving towards reaching our God given potential.
Next time you look up into a night sky, I want you to think of each heart at Georgetown High School and know that Friday night your hearts shone brighter than any of the stars!
Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.Georgetown High School is a tree of life not only to Jared and I but to every “special” student.
With a smile,