Advocate, Firefighter, Legg-Perthes Disease, Kindergarten, Kindness, Compassion, Inclusion, Respect, Disability
Hello, welcome to my podcast. My name is Dee and I am The Introverted Advocate. The mission of my podcast is simply this – to create a kinder, more compassionate world through advocacy. I began advocating back in 2014 and I have a few stories I’d like to share. Advocating is like an adventure and it can be done from the comfort of your keyboard at home, or it could be an adventure of meeting new people, learning new skills, or finding out that the world is full of caring individuals who are ready to lend a hand or their heart when they see a need. I invite you to look around in your world and see who might need a little support and kindness. It could be one individual, it could be a group or a cause, it could be a community. Are you ready? All right, let’s get to it.
I’d like to open my first podcast with a childhood memory that has endured in my heart for over 50 years. Yes, this is a memory from kindergarten — and it is the cornerstone for why kindness and advocacy are core values in my life.
Our teacher arranged a field trip to the local firehouse. When we arrived, the big red shiny fire trucks were there. The firefighters were fully dressed in their safety gear and helmets and boots.
This memory is very vivid. I can almost feel my heart racing right now.
After a brief tour of the fire station, we were directed to the fire pole in the middle of the first floor.
The firefighters slept upstairs; and when the fire alarm sounded for an emergency call, each one would slide gracefully down the pole to reach the first floor.
Back in the mid-sixties, every school kid knew about these cool-looking poles.
So of course, the firefighter asked our class: “Who wants to slide down the fire pole?”
Oh, you can imagine the clamor of little five-year-old kids jumping up and down and waving their arms.
My classmates ran up the stairs to the second floor and one by one began to descend.
It was a fun sight to watch. I was enjoying it. But watch on the sideline was all I could do. I was not able to slide down the pole.
Just before kindergarten started, I was diagnosed with Legg Perthes disease. This disease attacks the head of the femur bone…where it is connected to the hip socket.
Doctor’s instructions indicated I would be on crutches for a few years. (Didn’t know how long…)
The outcome remained unknown until the bone regenerated and more x-rays were taken.
This disability required me to refrain from the normal child’s play activity such as:
Walking on two legs.
Running on two legs.
Jumping and hopping on two legs.
Riding a bike with two legs.
Yup, I did everything on my good right leg. My left leg was treated to a “free ride.”
My total focus was to keep all weight off my left leg. It was a serious predicament – but I was a serious kid. My family told me I would recover one day…and I believed them.
So, at the firehouse that day, I would not be sliding down this tall pole with the chance of hurting my one good leg. To me, the risk was not worth it.
But guess what?! The story is not over!
A firefighter waited until all the kids had come down the pole.
Then in front of everyone, he invited me to a race. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but I agreed to race him…. One on One…from the fire truck …. down the big driveway ….to the road.
So, in this grand buildup, he asked my classmates to line up on both sides of the driveway.
This impromptu “cheering section” including my entire class and my teacher.
Then I was ready, he built up the anticipation: “Okay, on your mark, get set… GO!”
I ran as fast as my good right leg and two little crutches could go.
I recall that I giggled and laughed the entire 30 feet to the road.
Folks, it’s not so much what we “say” to people, it’s how we make them feel.
And on that glorious, sunny day, I felt included and respected.
After school, I went home to my Mom to share my wonderful day.
…And all was right with the world.
Thank you for tuning into my podcast – where Kindness is the Theme…and Advocacy is the Action.
Until next time, this is Dee…The Introverted Advocate.