I have always been drawn to things that were injured or had a disadvantage. I will be the first one to pick out the runt in the litter. If it is missing a limb or an eye, it was going home with me. I even stole a sick guinea pig from a pet store minutes away from being fed to a snake. I nursed the rodent back to health and it lived a long life, full of romaine lettuce and carrots. *Small disclaimer: Please do not attempt to recreate my heist from the local pet store, it could end badly, and I will laugh at you.
This was true even as a little girl. I have always loved teddy bears. The comfort that they bring, can make even the worst pain go away. One day my mom took me to a bear factory that allowed me to create my own stuffed friend. As I scanned the wall of deflated furry pets, I carefully picked out the perfect bear. The next step was to stuff it full of soft cotton, groom its fluffy coat, and then pick out an outfit. This was the hardest part, seeing as that it is completely irrational to expect a bear to only have one outfit. What if it was going swimming, out to dinner with friends at an upscale restaurant, or even heading to the gym for a quick minute of cardio?… You get the point.
As I walked my perfectly dressed, freshly fluffed buddy to the cash register, the manager pointed out that his leg was sewn on backwards. I was shocked to hear the woman say “Your bear is messed up, go pick out another one.” I told her I was keeping my “messed up” bear and that “just because it wasn’t normal didn’t mean that it couldn’t live a great life with me!” On the way home my mom asked me why I chose to keep my handicapped pal. I said “I am not perfect. I have health issues, but you didn’t trade me in for another daughter.” That teddy bear, just like me, deserved a chance. We named my stuffed animal “S.P.E.D”, my Special E.D. bear.
The truth of the matter is, when given a chance, those who are challenged by diversity, can become something pretty amazing. They are forced to slow down, to see the true meaning of life, and they don’t want to waste a minute of it. It wasn’t that S.P.E.D had his leg sewn on backwards. It was that I gave him a chance to make something great out of his life, just like my parents did with me.