In 2 days, Lea will walk in her graduation ceremony. Of course, this milestone causes me to reflect on her life and accomplishments.
Lea has had to work harder than most for everything she does. Babies without a disability just eat. Lea had to be taught by therapists and us at home. Most babies just crawl. Lea had to be taught by therapists and us at home. Most babies walk, talk, run, read.....All of this came for Lea, but only after much work on her part. She started out with a strike against her, but she overcame it. Not only does she do all of that stuff above, but she does things that many of us, who are physically more capable, do!
She has been in the Special Olympics for several years now. She has received tons of medals for swimming; bronze, silver and, of course, GOLD! But for Lea, receiving a 4th or 5th place ribbon is just as exciting as getting the gold. She knows she has done her best and is SO proud of herself for it! Oh, she knows the difference between 5th and 1st place. She just doesn't care which one she wins. She plays soccer and wins medals and ribbons for that as well. It has been so inspiring to see her progress in these sports.
She started therapeutic horseback riding 2 1/2 years ago. At first, she refused to even get on the horse. Then when she would ride, she would lean way back in the saddle or hunch over forward. Now her posture is great and she can post, trot and canter! She has tried jumping and roping, too. (Although her favorite thing to rope is her therapist, Stacy!) She even rides bareback. If you have never ridden, let me just tell you that this no easy task. Stacy lovingly (?) lets (read MAKES) me try this, so I can see how advanced Lea really is. With no saddle, you have to use your leg and core muscles and have great balance. Lea makes it look so easy! And her muscles don't even work as well as mine do.
Academic learning has been the same as the physical stuff. It took her much longer to learn to read. But she kept at it, for years, and now has a love of reading that many people never do. Her writing is really good, too. Fine motor activities can be very hard for her and physically uncomfortable. Yet she will sit there with her pencil and write tons of great stuff in her journal. She also writes songs!
She continues to WOW us with what she can do. I don't think any of us will have a dry eye as she walks across the stage to receive her diploma. She tried on her cap and gown and I had to fight back the tears. I am going to need lots of Kleenex and waterproof mascara!
Great job, Missy Lea!!!