A perfect day in June to make someone feel as if they’d hung the moon

Mark DeLap
Posted 6/14/23

In the Wind column

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A perfect day in June to make someone feel as if they’d hung the moon


I recently worked on a story about a special needs woman who is coming out of retirement to compete again in the Special Olympics at 49 years old. It made me remember a reflection of a very dear friend who was special needs who will always have my heart. Thank you, Amy Copsey, for causing me to remember my friend, Samantha… or “Sammi” as we called her.

Saturday was one of those kinds of perfect days. Perfect used to be sleeping in on a weekend, a late breakfast at one of the downtown Chicago bistros and perhaps a trip to Navy Pier on my way to shopping at the miracle mile.

As I’ve grown older, I have noticed that perfection has taken on another face. It deals with an opportunity to do something for someone else that can’t pay you back or return the favor.

Did you ever have one of those days? A day when everything you do is for someone else. I find it’s one of the best ways to keep your mind off your problems, your stresses and perhaps a very noisy past that keeps screaming at you from beyond the bridge that you forgot to burn.

I rose up early and was kind of excited to be doing something that I’d done in the past – in different cities. I can remember taking a special needs child, Samantha King, to her prom as a very good friend. She was like a daughter to me… and I made two of my sons accompany me just in case there were other kids there who needed a smile or perhaps a dance.

It was going to be a family thing. It was a western theme, and of course I fit right in with cowboy boots and jeans and a straw cowboy hat that itched like crazy! We danced the conga, we twisted, we “boogalooed” and slow danced. It made my heart forget about every other obligation I had.

I decided then that it must be like being with God’s little angels.

Samantha, or “Sammi” had an old manual typewriter. She would sit hunched over for hours typing. Oh, to you and I it may have looked like just a bunch of letters typed on a paper. Sammi would not leave one inch of white space and would type letters from top to bottom.

She would hand it to me before church on Sunday and said, “I write your letter.” Now… to the naked eye, it was just letters, but SHE knew exactly what she was saying as she was typing. She typed in fluent “Sammi.” The Bible talks about the tongues of angels. I look back on it now and realize that the interpretation was how she cared for me. Have you ever been given a letter written in the tongue of an angel. Perhaps one day when I get to heaven, it will be translated. Perhaps then I will cry even harder than I do now just thinking about it.

Two years ago, I got a chance to do a benefit concert at the Sioux Center Mall and in a few hours we had enough money to send the kids to nationals. They danced in front of the stage and clapped more boisterously than any audience I’d ever played for. Here I thought I was doing something good for them, and they were the ones doing good for my heart… making me feel better than I was. And it humbled me.

Last Saturday morning I had the chance to walk and run with these angels of God. I had a chance to help bring awareness to a community that these specially gifted athletes needed encouragement and support and financial assistance to get to their national Olympic games in August.

And there we were walking and talking and running sprints and laughing as one precious little girl who got to ride in the sheriff’s car was allowed to push the siren buttons. I found an officer not only showing her how, but he was getting in touch with his inner child and pushing those buttons too.

We went 1.5 miles through the streets in a community where people had lined the way, some in their cars, some on bicycles and some in lawn chairs. We have a community that sees the value in those who are less fortunate in some areas, but all of them with oversized hearts and a great capacity to love.

I raced a young man named “Eli” and he gave this old dinosaur a workout. After the sprint he turned to me and wondered if I was OK! I watched the determination in their faces – laboring to go the distance, carrying their lighted Olympic torch with such pride. This day was all about them. In lives where so many across the nation get overlooked and taken for granted and lost in the shuffle, it felt so good to see them have their day.

These special needs kids warmed my heart on a warm June day and it made me grateful that I could make a difference in someone’s life.

You watch them dance, you see them smile, you let them know it’s all for them. And suddenly everything else in life becomes mundane and secondary. If you’ve never made an angel smile, I challenge you to experience it. It WILL melt your heart.