In the unlikely event you're finding it difficult to be thankful this year in a community with such abundant reasons for gratitude, here are three young people who provide more than ample inspiration: James Simpson, John Paul Richardson and Olivia Fitzgerald.
These current and former Columbia County students face significant challenges in their daily lives, putting most of our routines into sharp perspective.
Take James Simpson, for example. At age 20, and despite having received his special education diploma two years ago, Simpson still cherishes his daily trip to Greenbrier High School.
Suffering from a rare neurological condition, Simpson can't walk, talk or eat. Six years ago, doctors gave him just two years to live. Yet he finds comfort in riding the bus to Greenbrier.
"This gives him the opportunity to keep going," says Betsy Barrs, his teacher in a moderate intellectually disabled classroom.
Or how about Greenbrier graduate John Paul Richardson, whose homecoming is highlighted in today's News-Times? Richardson's joyful homecoming Thursday included a tour of his now wheelchair-accessible home.
A Sept. 8 crash left Richardson paralyzed from the waist down. Still, he says, "Thanksgiving is going to be real good this year. I'm very thankful."
Then there's Olivia Fitzgerald. Sports writer Stephen Fastenau wrote about the eighth-grade Harlem girl Nov. 17; her father writes a letter today about that story.
Olivia lost part of her right arm in an accident as a toddler, but you'd barely know it. She's a star athlete, and keeps right up with other kids her age. "I'm always amazed at her," her dad says.
Isaiah 11:6 says "a little child shall lead them." These stories of inspiration, right here at home, should lead us all to deeper gratitude for our blessings this Thanksgiving.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.