Indiana has made lots of wonderful friends at High Hopes, the pre-school she’s been going to for the past two years, and I’ve been blessed to get to know quite a few of the parents there too. Because the school is integrated (about 40% are special needs), many of her friends have difficult challenges that she doesn’t have. Of course, Indy sees them all the same. Just like when she looks in the mirror, she sees herself the same as everybody else. So do I.
One of Indy’s favorite little friends is a boy named Max.
Max was born with cerebral palsy and isn’t able to walk or communicate with words, but he is a handsome little bundle of life and love and lights up every room he’s in.
A few weeks ago Max invited Indy to his 5th birthday party at his house. Max’s daddy is a professional artist and he had his art studio all set up so the kids could paint pictures on little canvas frames and there were lots of other fun games. But Indy’s favorite thing was sitting and talking to Max, while he smiled and giggled back at her. It was so precious to watch.
Being around Pamela and Lay with their son Max, and seeing other parents and teachers at High Hopes go the extra mile for their kids every day, reminds me of a song that a friend of mine Paul Sikes wrote about 10 years ago. At the time, I was just starting to experiment with video and how impactful it can be with music and had recently learned of the story of father and son runners Dick and Ricky Hoyt. And so I set some of their story to Paul’s words and music.
If you’re not familiar with their story… Rick Hoyt was born with cerebral palsy and has had a challenging life to say the least. He has spent his life in a wheelchair and has never walked. But when he was still a teenager, his father found a way for Rick to run. They are famous for it actually. Together, they’ve run the Boston Marathon 32 times and completed scores of triathlons and Ironman competitions in the past 40 years. Dick running, pushing, and pulling his son every step of the way. Their story, and their example, is nothing short of amazing.
Not long after Max’s birthday party, we went to dinner with him and his parents, and again Indy and Max had lots of fun together.
Afterward, as we were walking to our truck in the parking lot, we ran into another friend that we hadn’t seen in a while.
Although she was all smiles to see us, Tonya’s heart was heavy as she shared with us that she’d recently been diagnosed with cancer. We spent a good while in the parking lot talking and catching up and as I drove home that evening I found myself hoping for an opportunity to be able to help them in some small way.
Fortunately, on July 28th, our friends Kelley Lovelace, Neil Thrasher, Paul Sikes, and some other wonderful songwriters are going to turn our barn into a “Bluebird Cafe” style songwriter show to raise money for Tonya and her family, and I’m honored to get to be part of it.
Like so many other amazing people, Tonya and her husband Kevin and their kids were incredibly supportive of Joey’s difficult cancer journey and showered us with phone calls, texts, visits, and prayers. And now, just a few years later, Tonya is undergoing her own difficult regimen of cancer treatments. Besides being a mom of three beautiful girls, Tonya is a wonderful songwriter who moved here from my wife’s hometown area in Indiana. It will be a special evening of lifting her and her family up with songs and stories.
Max and his mom and Dad are going to come and I’m hoping that Paul will sing The Extra Mile and that the night will be a wonderful blessing to a family who have been a wonderful blessing to ours.
You can help. Some of Tonya’s friends have set up a page HERE that shares some info about her journey, and ways that people can contribute, or just send words of encouragement.