There are many times in a father’s life when he is proud of his young child…when she is taking her first steps, speaking her first words, learning how to ride a bike and the list goes on. Back in November, we submitted an entry for Hailey for the Pinellas County’s School Young Hero award. We nominated her because of her dedication and devotion to her sister Olivia as well as her outstanding academic performance. She received two letters of recommendation, one from her principal and one from her kindergarten teacher. The description of the award is as follows:
“The Pinellas County Schools’ Young Heroes award program was created in 2007 as a way for the district to honor students who have overcome adversity, excelled in academics or given back to their community. These students have perseverance, strong work ethics, and are character role models. Six students are honored each school year, (one elementary, one middle and one high school, per semester). To date, the district has recognized 25 Young Heroes.”
In January, I was perhaps more proud of Hailey than I have ever been. We were contacted and told that she had won! She is the first student from her school Leila Davis to be honored with the award. My heart swelled with pride and tears filled my eyes and overflowed. Allison and I were walking on cloud nine for days.
The definition of a hero is “a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.” I hope and pray that Hailey continues to exhibit the amazing qualities that she has displayed thus far. I can only imagine what Olivia would say to her if she were able to speak. I envision it would go something like this:
“To my sister, my best friend, and my biggest supporter…you amaze me. You protect me, comfort me and love me like no other. You include me in all that you do and look past my disabilities. You are so proud of me and are not afraid to tell others my story.
Today, I am the one who is proud of you. You deserve this honor for having courage in dealing with a situation and lifestyle that is beyond your years yet you embrace it with dignity and grace. Your joy has helped mom and dad through the darkest of hours and your smile and laughter fill my days with beauty.
You visit me in the hospital when I am sick. You are not afraid of the medical equipment and procedures I have to go through. You console me when I am upset or in pain. When my body doesn’t work like it should, you are there to assist me. You have spent countless hours painting canvasses and creating bracelets to raise money for my therapies when you could be playing. When you go to therapy with me, you help the other kids that are there. You see them just as kids. You encourage them and give them praise.
I couldn’t do this without you. I may never be able to walk or talk, but you make me feel like I can do anything. I will always try my hardest so I can impress you. I cannot tell you that I love you, but I hope my warm glow and constant smile when you are near lets you know. You frequently tell me I am the best sister in the world. But it is I who could not imagine a better sister than you. You are my hero and I will be forever grateful and blessed to have you in my life.”
I have put this video together in honor of Hailey. There is so much that cannot be expressed unless seen first hand but I tried my best to capture her pure spirit and her remarkable character. She is our little hero in more ways than she will ever know.