While I was walking back to be with Ellie, who was waiting with one of my friends, the Tae Kwan Do group was parading with different kicks, turns, and I "yahs!" What caught my attention was a young man with Cerebral Palsy being pushed in his wheelchair. He was kicking and "yahing" right along the rest of his friends. He was not as coordinated, his "yahing" was not as clear, but he was giving it his best.
I heard some laughing. Two people were laughing at him, imitating him, making fun of him.
I was not sure what to do, but I knew I could not just walk away. So instead I walked to them.
"Excuse me" I said and got them to look at me, "What you are doing is very inappropriate."
Their eyes got big, they stared back.
"I have a daughter with cerebral Palsy just like the man you are laughing at, " I continued, "it hurts when people do what you are doing."
Oh they assured me they were not making fun of that young man.
"Well, whoever you were laughing at, I do want you to know, that to see a young man like him" I said pointing at the karate kid kicking his leg, "is inspirational. There he is following and living out his dream regardless of his limitations, and he should inspire you too, because most of us do not have that kind of strength and determination to pursue our dreams. Remember, he is inspirational."
The man assured me he agreed with me, and that there are many people with disabilities able to do many things. I smiled at him and walked away. I was shaking.
I sat down next to Ellie and finally allowed myself to breath a little.
It is not always easy to speak up, I really could have just kept walking and let it go. However, who was going to stand up for that man? Who will stand up for Nina? For Nichole? I will.
And maybe, just maybe, these two people learned that it is not okay to make fun of someone that looks a little awkward, or that cannot walk or talk well. Maybe, just maybe, next tie they will find them to be inspirational.