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“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” Jean Anouilh (Photo from iStock)

Sheldon was an unlikely Homecoming King, yet he was crowned during loud applause and a standing ovation that evening at the high school football game. 
Sheldon spent most of his academic day in a special education classroom. His disabilities kept him from participating in sports. Since he wasn’t in the mainstream of the student body, he was seldom a part of parties and goings on. Also, he was unable to drive so he wasn’t out and about like most teens.
Somehow, though, Sheldon’s bear hugs, the way he excitedly said your name, and his loud hellos worked magic on the students and faculty. So much so that when the evening came to announce the winner from the Homecoming Court, Sheldon jumped in circles and squealed when he won.
Recently, Sheldon posted a belated birthday wish on our son’s Facebook page, some 10 years after their graduation. I noticed he’s working as an associate at Goodwill Industries.
“How appropriate,” I thought. “Our son and his friends are lucky to have him in their lives.”
When reading his message, what struck me is how a decade ago I felt sorry for this young man. I remember being grateful to the students who went out of their way to be accepting, you know, doing him a favor – how they helped Sheldon, rallied around him, and even gave up a popularity contest to allow him to win king for a day.
If I had written this post back then, it would have been about the heart of those students.
Though I’m still impressed by their kindness, what I didn’t recognize was Sheldon was royalty long before that crownInstead of all we did for him, he did us the favor.
I’d love to hear your story if you have a Sheldon in your life.
WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Thanks, Sheldon. You set an example for what you do so well, love unconditionally.

Alex, Sheldon & Rusty @ Carolina Forest High
Thanks for sharing this photo, Lyndsey Shelley.

On the side: Sheldon passed away today, September 16, 2012. He posted a birthday wish to our daughter just 17 days ago. She said, “I’m sad, but I think he had a good time while he was here so that makes it a little easier.”
When our son called to tell me, he said, “I don’t think Sheldon ever had a bad day.” That’s probably not true, but what a legacy to leave … to brighten friends’ days so much that they think you never had a bad one.

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