Monday, November 17, 2014

Final Day of Ammon's Week

Final Day of Ammon’s Week

Words fail me. The only words that come to mind that would describe the week-long event honoring Ammon can’t quite convey the feelings Ammon, Jim and I experienced. Overwhelming, deeply touching, gratitude, spectacular, fantastic, awesome, humbling. Those words combined might convey some of the emotions that went through our minds and hearts over the past week. Every event showed that much thought and work was expended on behalf of Ammon. Students stepped up to the plate. The student council had to be beyond tired at the end of the week. They were the first at the school and the last to leave. I wondered how they had time to sleep, let alone study and attend classes. Their parents must have invested in pretty large batteries to plug their kids in at night – just to energize them to go another day. I looked at so many of the administration and faculty members that brought their families to events so they would have a little time with them. They don’t get paid for after school hours. We saw the personal sacrifice of so many that it truly was humbling.

The students at Salem Hills High School shattered the perception of a self-centered world. They showed our part of the world that service is alive and well and that youth can do great things.

Although we had sent food to school for the Skyhawk Gorge in previous years, we ourselves had not attended and had no idea what to expect. I have never seen so much food at any event before! Almost every school club and organization and some local businesses had tables filled with samples of every kind imaginable. There were goldfish, brownies, bars and cookies. There was every kind of candy, trail mix, banana splits, hot chocolate and rootbeer floats. There was snake jerky and wonderfully spicy meatballs. Mac and Cheese sold out very quickly. We looked for something other than sweets. We found strawberries and grapes, hot dogs, popcorn and snow cones. The tables lined every single hall on the main floor – all hallways were filled with food, people and students serving. The cafeteria was also filled. Hundreds and hundreds of people flocked to this event. The school sold “Ammon Productions” shirts and dog tags saying, “Make Ammon’s dream come true.” All kinds of people were wearing their shirts, showing that they had purchased them to support this event.
The going was slow as we worked our way down the hallways. People stopped to talk to Ammon. He hugged everybody. He is definitely a hugger. He ate what he could. He smiled until I thought his face would crack. We saw old friends and made new ones. It’s amazing to go anywhere with Ammon. He knows everybody and everybody knows him!! They become instant friends when he is with us.

All the while the food was going, entertainment was going on in the auditorium with people that signed up. Guitar playing, small groups performing, soloists, etc. It was a lot of fun.

I am not sure what the monetary goal was. I think in years past they have raised anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000.00. There was a poster by Ammon’s special ed classroom that showed the progress of money raised, filling the cup. I didn’t see the poster but Ammon had been watching it. The event was last Monday night. When Ammon came home on Tuesday afternoon he said the cup had been filled and they reached their goal. That’s such wonderful news!!!

I’m impressed when any organization does something like this. I’m even more impressed that student council members could pull this off with a little help from the administration.

Ammon didn’t slow down. A week ago (Saturday morning following the week-long event), a videographer came to our house to interview and film Ammon. He is going to be in a dance with some young girls at the religious fireside Lifehouse Dance Academy puts on every year. This year it’s about connections. They want to use Ammon as the focal point and being a spokesperson for the need to feel connected.
I thought they would only be at our house for maybe a half hour to an hour. Two and a half hours later, they finally left. I think they kept asking him questions because they weren’t actually getting what they thought they should get.

Here are some of the questions and Ammon’s honest answers. I kept totally quiet. These were his feelings. I didn’t try to hurry him or re-phrase. This was simply Ammon.

Q:  Do you feel broken in any way?
A:  No, not at all.

Q:  Why do you think God gave you this body? Others can walk and have normal bodies. Have you thought why you have this one?
A:  Well, Christ came to the earth to pay for all our sins as long as we repent. None of us are perfect so I guess this is my thing. That’s why I have this body.

Q:  Do you ever feel invisible?
A:  No – only at stag dances. I don’t like to go to those because it’s dark in the room and it’s loud. My voice is so quiet that no one can hear me and they can’t see me, either. So I won’t go to stag dances any more.

Q:  Do you think it’s difficult to take care of you?
A:  Are you kidding?!? No! Oh, they have to help me get dressed and stuff like that but I’m not hard to take care of.  

Q:  Do you think you have a purpose on this earth and what it would be?
A:  We’re going to sing “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today” in ward choir on Sunday so I’ll say, “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed.” I guess that’s my purpose.

There were many other probing questions and the answers Ammon gave were all very simple and straightforward. I thought, “Why do we make life so complex? Why can’t we have simple, powerful answers like this?” 

When they didn’t get the “poor is me,” “feel sorry for me” answers, then they turned to me to get reality. The reality is that Ammon is the way he says he is. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself. He has been blessed with a purity and humility that compensates for his physical difficulties. He doesn’t take offense easily. He has never said a single bad word about anyone in his life. He chooses to see the good in others. He would never think someone was purposely mean to him. In his innocence, that spectrum of his thinking doesn’t exist. We try to help him stay that way with positive things to say and do. The reality is that he is left out often by peers – not purposely but due to inconvenience. The reality is it is hard to take care of his physical needs. He was referring to the typical teenage troubles that worry parents. He doesn’t talk back. He doesn’t show any rebellion at all. He is always (!) grateful for everything we do for him. He tells us a hundred times a day that he loves us and expects us to say it back. What kind of teenager is like that?! No, he isn’t difficult to care for and he recognizes that.

Last week Ammon sang a solo at the special education talent show held in Spanish Fork. He didn’t lip sync – he sang it with two other girls singing the girl part. He sang, "Don't Give Up." He loves this song. It epitomizes his life. He isn’t afraid to try something new. He doesn’t care what others think because he only thinks the best of everybody else so why wouldn’t they think the same about him? What a philosophy. 

I continue to be amazed by this young man.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I'm so glad Ammon got to have this experience!