I play roller derby for NOtown Roller Derby, and I have taken big hits, seen injuries, sustained them, but the toughest people I know are not athletes. They don't skate around hitting people, wear helmets, etc., but they have some of the coolest scars I have ever seen and handle pain better than the strongest adults I know. They are my "derby kids."
My best friend on the team has three girls, all warriors at heart, but two were given some extra physical challenges that have required intensive medical care from birth. Destiney has had Arthrogryposis from birth, a condition that affects the musculature and movement of her limbs, and has required a multitude of painful surgeries. When she was an infant they predicted that she would never hug her mom, feed herself, or even walk, and yet with surgeries and therapy she now does all of these things. In fact, she has been known to go to Logan's in Fresno with me and fling peanuts at people when they aren't looking, just the kind of silly behavior you'd expect from a teen! (Yeah, I will admit I had to talk her into it, but once she got started there was no stopping her)!
Megan had a stroke before she was born and the doctors didn't know if she would even be able to see or speak. She wasn't breathing and they didn't know if she would live. Thanks to the wonderful doctors at Valley Children’s they saved her life and not only can she see, but she is a happy young lady who, after surgeries and therapy, is learning to walk as well. She does have a shunt to drain painful fluid from her brain, and so she makes many trips to the hospital, but throughout she has been stoic and literally the strongest person I know. I tease her about it and she just grins and tells me to quit being so weak. She gives me a hard time when I whine about roller derby injuries. When I didn't play a lot because I was new she would ask me if I was on the team. I never knew if she was kidding. Now that I play constantly she asks me why I'm not on the A team. I tell her that I'm going to drive myself crazy trying to be her hero, but she says it's okay because she is MY hero. I love that these kids keep me humble, and keep it all in perspective.
But really there are three heroic kids in this story, for those of you with a child with special needs, or even a family member who has sustained a prolonged illness; you know that your healthy kids have to be survivors too. Kayla is that kid. We call her Hurricane Kayla because she never sits still. The youngest, she brims with energy, often skating around the house, accompanying her mom to practice, jumping on her dad, basically behaving like a normal seven year-old on birthday cake and Coca Cola, but without the sugar. And yet when her sisters are sick, or in the hospital, she is so intuitive to their needs, and sets aside her need for speed so often to cheer them up, or sit by their sides, or just contain herself just to be there. She too is incredibly strong to watch the derby girls bring her sister Megan the coveted derby bear with the skates, and see the balloons pass her by, even though quite often she is in the hospital too by default.
In summary, these kids deserve to win simply because they are the strongest people I know. There might not be a sport or contest for sheer strength of character, but these three possess it in spades. They are all my heroes and I hope you too can be inspired by their story!