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Southern Eyes

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit one of the local elementary Special Ed classes. It's no secret that the children there are handicapped both physically and mentally due to various syndromes. I am well aware that it's politically incorrect to say the word "handicapped" these days, and I would never belittle or make light of the issues these children and their families must face. But I do want to emphasize that their class is aptly named, because they truly are special. One wouldn't realize it simply in passing, but by spending time with each child, you find their unique personalities shining. It is heart breaking that some of their conditions cause them to regress and shorten their lives. But from what I've seen, that fact only makes each moment spent with them even more precious.

A proud grandparent called to tell us that his grandson was named student of the month at his school, something that would make any grandparent proud. But 8-year-old Trey Stevenson's teachers said they had big reasons to select him for the award. When Trey began first grade last year, his teachers said not only could he not communicate, but he would throw chairs and eat crayons rather than color with them. I did not see that child anywhere when I visited the classroom. Not only was Trey sitting in the chair instead of throwing it, but he was writing his name with better handwriting than my own teen sons. He proudly went on his own to retrieve various examples of his work and show them to me. In addition to learning his school lessons, Trey has learned to help his teachers. He pushes the wheelchairs of his fellow classmates when they go elsewhere in the school, which is a big contribution since there are twice more wheelchairs than teachers. He also goes to the office to check the mail or to deliver messages. Teacher Sonja Kitchings said Trey really does help her, and he continues to amaze her with the new things he is learning in class.

The one thing Trey loves most is wrestling, specifically TNA Wrestling on Spike TV. And TNA loves Trey, too. Yesterday, they were sending a limousine to his house to take him to their show in Aiken, S.C. And again, Trey has learned to be a helper. At the TNA shows, he serves along with the side ring announcer. His father said Trey has had his picture taken with all the big names in wrestling.

It's funny now that I think about it. Trey's teachers' challenge wasn't what they thought. Trey wasn't throwing chairs because of a syndrome. He just thought he was in the wrestling ring. Either place, he's becoming a star.

Web posted on Thursday, March 13, 2008

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