I walked into the gym a few minutes late. Penny was perched on the sidelines along with the other cheerleaders. The boys’ basketball team had taken a slight lead. I headed for the stands.
I saw Linnea, an old babysitter of ours. I sat down next to her and her dad. “What are you doing here?” I asked.
She shrugged and smiled and pointed to Penny. “Dad asked if I wanted to come to the game. I didn’t know why he thought I would want to watch high school boys play basketball. And then he told me Penny would be cheering, so here I am.”
“Does Penny know you’re here?” I asked. These days, we only see Linnea a few times a year. She works four jobs as an occupational therapist all over the state, and she doesn’t babysit any longer. I knew it would be thrilling for Penny to catch a glimpse of her.
“Oh yes,” Linnea said. “I’ve already gotten a hug.”
We chatted throughout the game. We cheered for the team. We cheered for the cheerleaders.
It was a small gesture. An hour and a half of her time. But it was also this moment of seeing the way community is supposed to work. Where we each are one small strand of a net that is woven together to hold one another up.
Linnea’s decision to show up, one time, made a difference to Penny. It made a difference to me. You can be the person who makes a difference too.
More with Amy Julia:
- Book: A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny
- Free Resource: Missing Out on Beautiful: Growing Up With a Child With Down Syndrome
- Some Thoughts on Down Syndrome and Cheerleading
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