Inspirational Monday – A Homecoming Couple to Inspire Us All

Remember!  Tomorrow kicks off our flash giveaway – Enter to win one of two e-copies of Carolyn Ridder Aspenson‘s paranormal novel, “Unfinished Business” in The Hand-Written Life’s Haunted Review and Giveaway!  Don’t forget!!!  It’s a one-day giveaway, entries will close on the 16th at 1am pacific!

Inspirational Day

Homecoming is a time for celebration for many young high school students.  Even if your team didn’t win the game, it’s still an excuse to put on your fancy clothes and go out dancing with your friends.  On the other hand, for some students homecoming can be a stressful, or even unpleasant time of the school year.  With the titles of King and Queen up for grabs, instead of a fun activity that brings people together and shows school spirit, homecoming can often become a popularity contest marked by petty actions and cruel teasing.

At least, that was the case in days past.

Today, although bullying is as big a problem as it’s ever been, examples of the open-mindedness that kids are equally as capable of, are popping up everywhere as well.

Take, for example, the students at West Orange High in Orlando, Florida.  For the first time in the history of the school district, two students with special needs were not only in the running for homecoming king and queen, but they actually won.  And according to the football team’s quarterback, Hayden Griffitts, who was also in the running for homecoming king, “This didn’t happen because we feel sorry for them or something, just the opposite. They really deserve it. I mean, homecoming is about bringing people together and having fun. And that’s what they do.”

Travjuan “Bubba” Hunter and Semone Adkins both have down syndrome, but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming two of the most popular students in school – maybe even in the whole town!  Says one teacher’s aide who works with the kids, “Oh, everybody in town knows Bubba. I swear he could run for mayor — and probably win.”

Indeed, the entire community came together to provide the couple – who have always been sweet on each other – with a tux (donated through Men’s Warehouse) and a dress and makeup (donated by Dillard’s and Ulta respectively).  They even made their entrances in style, with Hunter appearing in a black Maserati, and Adkins in a red Ferrari.  The two, who live around the corner from each other and have gone to school together for over 12 years,  competed in Monday night’s talent show for all students elected to homecoming court by dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”.

Executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida and friend to both children’s families, Amy Van Bergen, had this to say about the event: “The biggest factor in them being on the homecoming court is just them.  They’re engaging, they’re genuine and they’re getting back exactly what they’re giving out, which is their kindness. It’s just reflected back to them.”

Photo Credit: Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

Photo Credit: Stephen M. Dowell / Orlando Sentinel

*   *   *

I love this story because it isn’t so much about “overcoming” as it is about people finally starting to look past stereotypes and assumptions in order to see others for who they truly are.  Not only see them, but also recognize that even if someone looks, or acts, or dresses, or talks, or is in anyway different from them on the outside, they’re the same on the inside.

That’s the stuff that counts, after all.

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