Mandan News

The joy of volunteering

Layout 1 (Page 1)Both my loyal readers may recall that my sister, Bee, has played a good-sized role in creating ‘Dreams in Motion,’ and as such she’s done me the honor of occasionally volunteering me in her efforts. Last week, at the Great American Bike Race, she thought I would be a good emcee at the ‘Dreams in Motion Fashion Show’.

It was the first such fashion show, and to fully appreciate the setting one needed to experience the spectacle of GABR. Hundreds of folks volunteered to ride stationary bikes to raise money for Cerebral Palsy, and they raised more money in this one-day event than most nonprofits raise in a year.

Like I was saying, GABR is a spectacle in that folks from all over come to compete and volunteer, the air is rather electric, and everyone seems to be having a great time.

When the event first started, I rode bike but not very well. I’d climb on the bike, and for twenty minutes I’d pump that baby for all I was worth, and although my odometer said I rode 9 miles, I never seemed to get anywhere. Then I’d get off the bike, catch my breath and watch others pump away until I recouped enough to stagger to my car.

This event goes on all day, but this year ‘Dreams in Motion’ added a new twist with their fashion show, and that turned out to be a crowd pleaser. In order to understand this event I need to help you understand what ‘Dreams in Motion’ is about.

First, I need to say that the folks who volunteer for this program are my heroes, especially my sister, because they’re doing something that not many folks understand. Bee has been a special education teacher for her entire career, and she and all her helpers really do seem to love their work.

The kids they work with have been handed a wide range of issues to deal with, and most of us can only be thankful that life hasn’t challenged us as much as Bee’s kids. Her classroom is filled with all sorts of challenged kids; kids that are totally wheelchair bound, autistic kids, kids with disorders that haven’t been defined yet, kids in walkers, kids unable to speak, kids with challenges that go far beyond our imaginations.

And the key word here is kids, and kids love to be kids so Bee and her crew started Dreams in Motion to fulfill these kid’s dreams. Dreams has dances, soccer games, hockey, curling, bowling, tennis, and who knows what they’ll come up with next.

Volunteers help kids scoot across the ice in their specialized sleds, other help them dance by rolling their chairs through a dance routine, and as you can imagine the smiles on the kid’s faces are usually exceeded by the smiles on the volunteers faces.

Bee’s always been a bit smarter than me, but a long time ago I learned that no matter how busted up a kid is, there’s always someone inside that crippled up shell. I recall a young man I met who was deaf, blind, quadriplegic, and mute. When I looked at him I was quite taken back as I figured this poor soul was trapped inside this rumpled up body, and I was left wondering if he knew that a world outside even existed.

Then they hooked this fella up to a computer, where they could tap a Morse code using a device strapped to his palm, and another straw like device around his mouth. Then a therapist began tapping on her keyboard, which activated the device in his palm, and he would respond to whatever message she sent by breathing short puffs into the device around his mouth, and the computer would spell out what the two were saying to each other … and all I could think was OMG there’s someone in there’.

So Bee’s spent her career not only bringing these folks out but helping them realize their dreams, and I’m really honored when she asks me to play a small role in her calling … so she handed me the script, the kids walked down the red carpet, the crowd roared, the kid’s smiled, and so did I.

Here’s hoping that your presence leaves folks with more smiles than frowns