Sunday Post 181: My Friend Theara

A beautiful thing happened this week.  About 15 staff and former staff members at the Cary YMCA celebrated Theara’s 30th birthday.  I can’t remember when I felt any prouder of the place where I work.  I can’t remember when I felt more full as a person.

When I first arrived at the Cary YMCA, one of the branches of the YMCA of the Triangle, Theara was about 9 years old.  I was put in charge of the youth department, overseeing several after-school and day camp programs.  She was one of our kids.

In many ways Theara was like all of the other kids.  She was excited, happy, funny and glad to be alive.  She built a connection with every person she came in contact with.  Some days she might get frustrated with someone, but her anger didn’t last long.  She primarily brought joy to all she came in contact with.

There were also ways that she was different.  Sometimes she moved slowly.  We’d walk a group of kids to the park about a half mile from the building.  Theara would get tired.  When she did, she would stop, refusing to complete the journey.  At those times, she couldn’t be moved.  We discovered the best plan of attack was to simply rest with her.

Oh, and one more way Theara is different.  She has Downs Syndrome.

There are a lot of people who don’t conform to the norms of the world.  Sometimes they intentionally choose to be different.  Sometimes it just happens.

The beautiful thing about life is that sometimes those who look at the world through a different lens, from a different perspective, make others laugh, love and grow the most.

As I moved up the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the director of the Cary Y, Theara would often drop by our office suite after her high school bus dropped her off in our parking lot.  She would fill us in on her day, share a little sunshine, and then she would line the only three men in the office up.  And each afternoon she visited, she would announce that one of us had won the “It’s Your Lucky Day to be Handsome Award.”  I often dressed up in suit and tie, and I’m proud to say that I took first place in this afternoon ritual more than not.  And I would boast to colleagues the entire next day about my recognition.

As we celebrated Theara’s life this week, I felt genuinely happy.  The memories were sweet, her smile still infectious.  On my way home Tuesday afternoon, I thought to myself, I hope my girls will bring as much joy to others as Theara has brought to me. 

If they do, they will be lives well lived.

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  1. I love this. It reminded me of all the Theara’s I’ve known through camp, and I needed to wrap myself in their memory this morning. I just didn’t know it.

  2. Wonderful way to celebrate Theara! I get to teach a dance fitness class every Tuesday/Thursday for special needs kids… with a majority being Downs or autistic. It is the brightest point of my week… they live in the moment! It’s refreshing!

    For my birthday this year, I invited all my special needs kids to my party! It by far was the BEST party I’ve ever had… they were so excited as they gave me a gift, many of them handmade… Those gifts adorn my apartment today…showing that love can come in the purest forms.

    Thank you for sharing the story of Theara!!!

  3. Patty Thomson

     /  August 17, 2014

    thank you for sharing!!! What a delight she must be.

  4. Cheryl Coats

     /  August 17, 2014


    Sent from my iPad



  5. Cheryl Coats

     /  August 17, 2014

    Please forgive my previous email. I meant to reply to another email.

    I enjoy reading your blogs. I find them insightful and encouraging. God bless,


    Sent from my iPad



  6. Aunt Susan

     /  August 17, 2014

    While Theara is very special, you and Lisa started together and even now carry on raising some very thoughtful and special kids. They too will make an impact on someone’s life, maybe just not in the same way.


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