“They told me I can’t sing at the pool!!” Mark said, confused and a bit exasperated.
The comment caught Dave, Forrey and me off guard. “Why don’t you ask the lifeguard if you can sing?” we suggested.
Mark, 15, who was born with Downs Syndrome, immediately left our table next to the pool and walked up to a lifeguard. The first lifeguard sent him to the lifeguard who worked at the deep end of the pool.
We watched as Mark and the lifeguard talked briefly. Then Mark turned and began singing the national anthem. Everyone could hear him.
I placed my Maranatha cap over my heart and Dave, Forrey and I stood as we listened in amazement to Mark’s own “unique” rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. As this young man sang, the people in and around the pool quickly reacted to what they heard, their activity came to a stop and the noise fell to zero. All eyes fixated on Mark as he performed this “nonscheduled and unanticipated” musical event.
“…And the home of the brave!” Mark ended the anthem with emphasis. A round of applause broke out. Mark’s face lit up with satisfaction and joy as he walked back to his chair at our table. We three greeted him with high fives.
Mark had won a gold medal at the Michigan Special Olympics for power lifting. He had sung the national anthem there as well. His rendition of the anthem at the poolside that day is a moment I will never forget.
Mark – with just a little encouragement – had broken through a perceived and misunderstood barrier and I’m soooooo glad he did. This 2019 family camp memory reminded me once again of the wonderful joy and delight that can be experienced when the unexpected “interrupts” our daily routines.