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What would you do? You make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line, there isn’t one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students  delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.  After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: “When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other  children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?”

The audience was stilled by the query. The father  continued. “I believe that when a child like Shay, physically and  mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize  true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other  people treat that child.” Then he told the following  story:

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some  boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think  they’ll let me play?”  Shay’s father knew that most of the boys  would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also  understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a  much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by  others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay’s father approached one  of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could  play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We’re losing by  six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on  our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad  smile, put on a team shirt. His Father watched with a small tear in  his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father’s joy at his  son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team  scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the  ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even  though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in  the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father  waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning,  Shay’s team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the  potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at  bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away  their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat.  Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t  even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the  ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher,  recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this  moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay  swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward  to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung  at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft  grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.  Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the  game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first  baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the  stands and both teams started yelling, “Shay, run to first! Run to first!” Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it  to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!” Catching his  breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to  make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the  right fielder had the ball … the smallest guy on their team who now  had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown  the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the  pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and  far over the third-baseman’s head. Shay ran toward third base  deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, “Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way  Shay”

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop  ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and  shouted, “Run to third! Shay, run to third!”

As Shay rounded  third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their  feet screaming, “Shay, run home! Run home!” Shay ran to home, stepped  on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and  won the game for his team.

“That day”, said the father softly  with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped  bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world”.

Shay  didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never  forgotten being the hero and making his father so happy, and coming  home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the  day!

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOTNOTE TO THIS STORY: We all send  thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but  when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.  The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyberspace,  but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our  schools and workplaces.

If you’re thinking about forwarding  this message, chances are that you’re probably sorting out the people  in your address book who aren’t the “appropriate” ones to receive this  type of message. Well, the person who sent you this believes that we  all can make a difference. We all have thousands of opportunities  every single day to help realize the “natural order of things.” So  many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with  a choice: Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do  we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder  in the process?

A wise man once said every society is judged  by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

You now  have two choices: