Chris and Melinda Stanton
Like so many of us that have children with special needs our first day as new parents was a whirlwind of emotions. Thinking back eight years ago to when our first daughter, Abigaile, was born we had never heard of NADS nor did we know the type of inspiration the members of this group possessed and conveyed to complete strangers. The second day in the hospital is when we began to learn that we had become part of a bigger family. The phone rang and we picked up to hear a kind voice on the other end and that began our journey. As new and unknowing parents we asked a few questions, but one that my husband Chris had to ask, because he had played hockey since he was 6 years old, was Will she ever ice skate? The calm lady on the other end of the phone replied that her daughter ice skates and performs in ice shows so I wouldn’t be surprised when your daughter gets a little older that she will too. The lady on the phone was Linda Picchi. That phone call we will never forget as it has been part of the inspiration for our family.
Abby has been on ice skates since she was 6 years old as part of the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA). She was in her first ice show just last year at 7 years old. Abby was so proud to be part of a team. Their program theme was “Olympic Gold”. Our entire family and Abby’s teachers from school came to see her skate. It was truly one of the most touching moments. This past January, Abby skated in a special needs skating competition held in Franklin Park, IL. With her coach, Rachel Shropshire, they skated to the song “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from the Toy Story movie.
After the competition, when Abby had her named called she was so surprised to see that she had received a trophy for participation. She ran over to us staring at her trophy and said, “I won!” She was so proud. She held the trophy on her lap the whole way home from the rink. When she got in the house she ran to her room and put it on her dresser. That night at bedtime she said “I am going to skate again by myself and win a trophy in the Special Olympics”. We told her it was a great goal to have and that we know she can do it if she keeps trying. That following Friday at her practice with her coach, Zane Shropshire, she shocked us all. Zane said, “Okay Abs lets do our compulsories. Do your swizzles blue line to blue line.” Right before our eyes she did it all by herself! We were so proud of her and she was so proud of herself.
Skating has given Abby so many gifts – being part of a team, self confidence and determination to achieve her goals. She has even become an inspiration to her 2 year old sister, Isabelle, who now wants to get out there and skate when Abby does.
Abby’s skating all happened because of one phone call to our hospital room 8 years ago from a wonderful organization, NADS. Then from there it was her determination.
Our daughter has taught us so much and she never stops amazing us. She is a true example of never giving up. She lives that motto every day. Our family knows that in the very near future she will achieve her goal of skating in the Special Olympics.