I've never had Adam in a class but I know who he is--you can't miss him as he drives around campus in his motorized wheelchair. Another teacher introduced me to him over a year ago, and Adam and I were pleased to learn that each other is a good conservative. We've had many chats on the quad--no, he doesn't repeat boilerplate, he knows what he's talking about. He and I disagree once in awhile, and that shows me that he's thinking for himself. And think he does.
If you want to see what high-quality student journalism can look like, read the first link above. If you want to read about just how cool it was, especially for Adam, when a Sacramento Kings player was a guest at a recent school rally, read the first link. If you want to be uplifted, if you want to read about a great kid (with great teammates on the basketball team), if you want to read about overcoming adversity and how easy it is for a kid with cerebral palsy to fit in at our school, read the stories at both the links above. Perhaps you can read those stories without getting tears in your eyes; if so, you're stronger than I am. Either that or you have no soul. :-)
I didn't know, until reading the school paper, that Adam's the manager for our basketball team. I didn't even know about his love of (and in-depth knowledge of) the game. When we see each other, we usually talk about socialized medicine or Sarah Palin or Ronald Reagan or Mark Levin's book or how to deal with terrorists. Reading these stories, though, I learned much more about Adam and my respect for him continues to grow. Can you imagine a kid in a wheelchair giving not just encouragement but advice to basketball players on the court, and the players' not just listening to it but welcoming and considering it? Sometimes I marvel at the decency and maturity (not to mention intellect--our players are smart to listen to Adam) these teenagers display. They don't pity Adam, no one does; we respect him, and rightfully so.
One aspect both stories touched on is Adam's optimism. I don't think I've ever seen him in a bad mood, I wonder if he even knows what one is. And how mature must he be to undertake all those trips to Poland, by himself, to get treatment for his condition? He doesn't talk about his cerebral palsy or the efforts he goes through to deal with it--no, Adam has other pursuits on his mind. From the school paper story linked above:
From the major Sacramento paper story linked above:
Felton’s interests include news, radio and T.V. communication, politics, and of course the NBA. He hopes to pursue a career in one of these areas.
Leibovitz knew Felton was a basketball fan from having shared a class together. He also knew his team needed a manager.
"I knew he loves basketball and is a huge Kings fan," Leibovitz said. "The first thing he says is, 'Oh my God, are you serious? Count me in.' "
Felton had been to a "couple" of Rio Americano games as a junior and liked the atmosphere. Leibovitz made the experience more enjoyable by coming over, shaking Felton's hand and telling him he was glad he was there.
"When Abe told me about the opening, I just wanted to get involved with the team and help any way I could," he said. "I even talked about some options for an advertising campaign to sell tickets. The coach heard that and said, 'I like this guy.' Things just took off from there."
Did they ever. Unlike a traditional manager, Felton doesn't hand out towels and balls. He hands out advice and encouragement.
"You can be in a bad mood, but when you talk to Adam, you walk away in a better mood," said senior shooting guard, and scoring leader, Zach Nathanson. "You walk away a better person."
It may suck to have cerebral palsy, but it doesn't suck to be Adam. And that isn't just fluff to prop up the disabled kid. Zach is right: when you're done talking to Adam, you do walk away a better person.
As I said, I've never had Adam as a student, but I'm sure going to miss seeing him around campus after graduation in a few months.