Editor’s note: Sedgwick native Riley McGinn is a junior at the University of Oklahoma who spent last summer working on staff at Camp Woodchuck, Rainbows United’s camp in northwest Wichita for children and young adults with special needs. Though Riley expected to have an impact on the children, she discovered she was the one who walked away with greater perspective.
I think it is special that your favorite number is 22 because you like the way that it sounds when you say it.
I think it is special that it is only June but you already know what day of the week Halloween will fall on this year.
I think it is special how you are afraid of the bugs in the grass that you can’t see, but are as fearless as can be when you get on a swing.
I think it is special when you ask me to hold you so we can dance together. When you ask me about my life I can tell that you so honestly care, and I think that’s special, too.
I think it is special how your face lights up from ear to ear when I play your favorite song on my phone. A dead battery at the end of the day is but a small price to pay to see you shine like that.
I think it is special how the simplest things in my eyes are some of the greatest treasures in yours. I wish that I could care about something so intently as you care about your football cards and comic books.
I think it is special that you laugh at my knock-knock jokes, no matter how many times I tell you the same one.
I think that your attention to detail is special and important, and I love that the smallest things matter to you. I think it is special how you cannot tell me about your emotions, but when you show me your art I can see everything that you feel.
You make me feel so special when you greet me every single morning with a hug and a smile. I think it is special how no day is a bad day with you. I think that even on my bad days, your laughter is still the most contagious thing in the world.
I think it is special how you hug me like you have known me for all your life. I think it is special how you love your mom so much that you miss her by 10:30 every morning. I hope that my kids love me like that one day.
I think it is special that you make me “get well soon” cards when I am sick, and “I miss you” cards when I am gone.
I think you are more special than any diagnosis that you could ever be given.
Even though it is my job to teach you about life and how to be the best person that you can be, you are the one who ended up teaching me the most. You have taught me more patience, love, laughter, and happiness than I have ever known.
The world says that you have special needs, but I say that you have the special that the world needs.