Saturday, February 25, 2006

Happy News/Sad News

There were two stories in the news this week concerning Autistic boys, and both really hit me in a tender place!

This first one is very sad:

Missing Autistic Boy's Body Found in Fla.
Fri Feb 24, 12:51 PM ET
GREENACRES, Fla. - The body of an 8-year-old autistic boy was found in a retaining pond across the street from his home Friday, one day after police launched a massive search for him.

Jared McGuire's mother told authorities she had last seen him sleeping on the couch Thursday afternoon. After she reported him missing, police scoured the area dogs and a helicopter. Authorities suspect the body sank and then resurfaced.
A deputy spotted Jared in the pond Friday. An autopsy was planned Friday to determine the cause of death.
There were no obvious signs of trauma and the boy was fully clothed, Greenacres Police Lt. Michael Porath said. Authorities said the boy had severe autism.
Police has issued an alert after a witness reported seeing a child matching Jared's description being forced into a van.
"We are still looking into the abduction angle," Porath said. But he said because the boy was found so close to home, it appears less likely that he was abducted.
Greenacres is 8 miles south of West Palm Beach.

It's a serious reminder to me of how lucky I have been in the past when Austin and Reece have wandered away from me. The time that I remember most when I read this article was one day when Austin was 3 or a little older, and we were at the park for a playgroup. All of a sudden I just couldn't find him anywhere. I handed baby Riley over to my friend Kristi, and I started searching for Austin with some of the other moms. About 10 minutes into the search, one of the moms found Austin near the Chattahoochee River, standing on a rock and throwing rocks into the river. He could have so easily fallen into the water! When the mom found him, a jogger was standing there with her dog. She told the mom that her dog had stopped her from jogging further when it saw Austin, and then it refused to budge. I never even saw that lady and her dog, but I am eternally grateful that God placed them there to watch over Austin! I'm grateful for all the times God has protected Austin and Reece when they have wandered away!

And now here is the happy story:

Autistic Teen Scores 20 in Basketball Game
By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 24, 2:46 AM ET
GREECE, N.Y. - Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team — keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.
That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.
McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.
"I ended my career on the right note," he told The Associated Press by phone Thursday. "I was really hotter than a pistol!"
In recent days, McElwain's phone has hardly stopped ringing. When his family went out for a meal, he was mobbed by well-wishers. A neighborhood boy came by to get a basketball autographed.
McElwain, 5-foot-6, was considered too small to make the junior varsity, so he signed on as team manager. He took up the same role with the varsity, doing anything to stay near the sport he loves. Coach Jim Johnson was impressed with his dedication, and thought about suiting up McElwain for the home finale.
His performance was jaw-dropping: 20 points in four minutes, making 6-of-10 3-point shots. The crowd went wild.
"It was as touching as any moment I have ever had in sports," Johnson told the Daily Messenger of Canandaigua.
McElwain didn't begin speaking until he was 5. He lacked social skills but things got easier as he got older. He found many friends and made his way through school in this Rochester suburb, although many of his classes were limited to a half-dozen students. And he found basketball.
On the varsity, he never misses practice and is a jack-of-all-trades.
"And he is happy to do it," Johnson said. "He is such a great help and is well-liked by everyone on the team."
Even though McElwain was in uniform for the Feb. 15 game, there was no guarantee he would play — Athena was battling for a division title.
The fans, however, came prepared. One section of students held up signs bearing his nickname "J-MAC" and cutouts of his face placed on Popsicle sticks.
The Trojans opened a large lead against the team from the nearby Spencerport. With four minutes left, McElwain took the court to deafening cheers.
The ball came to him almost right away. His 3-point shot sailed completely off course, and the coach wondered if he made the wrong move. McElwain then missed a layup. Yet his father, David, was unruffled.
"The thing about Jason is he isn't afraid of anything," he told the newspaper. "He doesn't care what people think about him. He is his own person."
On the next trip down the floor, McElwain got the ball again. This time he stroked a 3, all net.
He was just warming up.
"As soon as the first shot went in that's when I started to get going," he said.
On the next attempt, he got another 3-pointer. Then another, and another. In fact, he would have made one more 3, but his foot was on the line, so he had to settle for 2 points.
Greece Athena won 79-43, and pandemonium reigned. McElwain signed autographs, posed for pictures and was hoisted by his teammates.
The Trojans begin sectional play Saturday and McElwain will be on the bench again, wearing his usual shirt and tie.
It doesn't bother him. More important, he said, is "trying to win a sectional title for the team."
McElwain will soon be done with high school basketball, then enroll in business management this fall at Monroe Community College.
"I'll go on to college and I'll try to hoop there," he said. "I just love it, it's one of the greatest sports in the world."

I wish I could find the link to the video that Russ had sent me a couple of days ago when he first saw this story on CNN. He warned me that it would make me teary, but in reality I sobbed as a I watched it! It wasn't the fact that the boy did the 20 points, it was the reaction from his school friends and teammates who had come out to support him! With every single shot that went in, there was a roar of cheering and standing ovations for this boy! He has people around him that care for him, and care about him, and want to cheer him on! On the video they interview him, and while Austin's speech is clearer than his, it did remind me a good bit of Austin in the way he looks around when he talks, and especially when he said he was "hotter than a pistol"! LOL That sounds just like something my Austin would say! :)

Speaking of Austin, he is at his baseball evaluations right now! Last night when he and Daddy went to have batting practice, they could only use the Pee-Wee fields because the other fields were all full! Austin hit a ball on that field that hit the scoreboard!!! The scoreboard is in right field and several feet higher than the fence! :) This could be an interesting year for my baseball boy! LOL

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