One of My Favorite Stories…

During my coaching career, I’ve done many presentations at the Canyon Ranch Spa, here in Tucson. Many of you are aware of how much I love public speaking – and the story I’m sharing with you today is one of the most well received at these events. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do!

The lessons within this tale are many. But, for me, the most profound lesson is that each and every one of us a teacher. When we embrace those around us, recognize their brilliance, and acknowledge the fundamental truth that they have within them something to teach us; we open ourselves up for abundance, and joy. Without further ado, here’s the story I told so many audiences at Canyon Ranch…

At a fund-raising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, 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, who was mentally and physically disabled 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 I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my 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.

I 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. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my 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 I 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 me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

You may have heard, or read that story before. It circles the globe as part of email forwards every year, so chances are you’re already aware of this tale of love. But…I’ll tell you something. I can read this story every single day, and find tears welling in my eyes, and often running down my cheeks – simply because it is so full of love, in all its forms.
Feel free to leave your comments – our community would so enjoy hearing your voice, and learning from you, dear teacher.
Love and Great Joy,

8 Responses to One of My Favorite Stories…

  1. Patty Walters says:

    Thank you Karen for this story. It is always very moving and I too find tears rolling down my cheeks when I read it. It opens my heart and mind to what is possible in this world and how simple things can turn into life changing opportunities. May we all see an opportunity to reach out today, this season, to another human being with human kindness we often reserve for those closest to us.

  2. Marisa says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thank you for sharing this full of meaning and love story. I did not read it before… After reading it, I have also tears in my eyes… Very nice.
    Warm regards,

  3. coachkaren says:

    Hi Marisa, love is my top value, and it is a love story. Thanks for sharing that perspective!

  4. Melissa says:

    Thank you, Karen. Yes, I have heard this before, from you, I believe. It is such a heartwarming tale and so beautifully shared by you too. Thank you for sharing it so widely and with such love. I am going to print this to share with my kids.

    Wouldn’t the world be in a much different place if we could all practice such awareness, compassion and selfless love? Perhaps this is happening through tales like this one. It wasn’t just Shay and the team that ‘won’ — they all won!


    • coachkaren says:

      Melissa, that is so great that you are sharing it with your kids. I wonder how I can practice more awareness like this in my own life… where are my opportunities to create a win-win-win??? Thanks for stirring the questions within me. 🙂

  5. Maria gu says:

    Hi Karen, Thank you so much for sharing this true love story. Me too, tears rolling down my cheeks when I read it…

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