Robin L. Silverman
day in early December, we woke up to discover a perfect, freshly fallen snow.
"Please Mom, can we go sledding after breakfast?" my
eleven-year-old daughter Erica begged. Who
could resist? So we bundled up and
headed over to the dike on the Lincoln Park golf course, the only hill in our
otherwise flat prairie town.
we arrived, the hill was teeming with people.
We found an open spot next to a tall, lanky man and his three-year-old
son. The boy was already lying
belly-down in the sled, waiting to be launched. "Come on, Daddy! Come
on!" he called.
man looked over at me. "Okay
if we go first?" he asked.
all means," I said. "Looks
like your son is ready to go."
that, he gave the boy a huge push, and off he flew!
But it wasn't only the child who soared – the father ran after him at
must be afraid that his son is going to run into somebody," I said to
Erica. "We'd better be
With that, we launched our own sled and whizzed down the hill at
breakneck speed, the powdery snow flying in our faces. We had to bail out to
avoid hitting a huge elm tree near the river, and ended up on our backs,
ride!" I said.
what a long walk back up!" Erica noted.
it was. As we trudged our way back
to the top, I noticed that the lanky man was pulling his son, who was still in
the sled, back up to the summit.
service!" Erica said. "Would
you do the same for me?"
was already out of breath. "No
way, Kiddo! Keep walking!"
the time we reached the top, the little boy was ready to play again.
go, go, Daddy!" he called. Again,
the father put all his energy into giving the boy a huge send-off, chased him
down the hill, and then pulled both the boy and sled back up.
pattern went on for more than an hour. Even
with Erica doing her own walking, I was exhausted. By then, the crowd on the hill had thinned as people went
home for lunch. Finally, it got
down to the man and his son, Erica and me and a handful of others.
can't still be thinking the boy is going to crash into someone, I thought.
And surely, even though the child is small, he could pull his own sled up
the hill once in a while. But the
man never tired, and his attitude was bright and cheery.
I could stand it no longer. I
looked over at him and called, "You have tremendous energy!"
man looked at me and smiled. "He
has Cerebral Palsy," he said matter-of-factly.
"He can't walk."
was dumbstruck. Then I realized
that I had never seen the boy get out of the sled in all the time we'd been on
the hill. It had all seemed so happy, so
normal, that it never occurred to me that the child might be handicapped.
I didn't know the man's name, I told the story in my newspaper column the
following week. Either he or
someone he knew must have recognized him, because shortly afterward, I received
Dear Mrs. Silverman,
The energy I expended on the hill that day is nothing compared to what my
son does every day. To
me, he is a true hero, and someday I hope to be half the man he has