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Maddox’s miracles on the big screen

It was alphabetical. The pictures appeared on the big screen in New York’s Time Square alphabetically. Tell that to a 9-year old who was overly anxious to see her photo appear before thousands of viewers. I am sure she was asking why there were so many letters in the alphabet.

It all began several months ago, when Maddox McClintic, from Ossineke, had her picture taken by Lori Keskimaki. It was a fairytale photo of Maddox in a white dress standing next to a miniature unicorn pony. The photo captured the pure innocence of Maddox (Maddie), who was born with Down syndrome.

A few months later, Dr. Jamie McClintic, Maddie’s mom, saw where the National Down Syndrome Society was asking for photos from across the nation. Five hundred of them would be chosen to appear in Time Square during the 2019 Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome awareness.

Well, Maddie’s was chosen and she and her entire family made plans to attend the September event.

The family packed all they could into their three-day trip, but, on the morning of Sept. 14, 2019 they were standing smack in the middle of Time Square patiently waiting for their picture to appear a hundred times bigger than ever on the big screen. OK, most were waiting patiently. As the event unfolded across Facebook Live, Maddie had positioned herself right by the camera operator, and her patience wore out about the letter “H”.

She could be heard asking how much longer. The response was, “We are on the letter ‘H’ now.” A minute later, “What letter are we on now?” Response: “The letter ‘J,’ Maddox.” And so it went every minute until finally the letter “M” was about to go live.

Then pow, It was up there. Little Maddox, white dress, unicorn and all. It was the quickest six seconds of my life, but worth the wait, even if the alphabet had a million letters.

Pure joy erupted. Cheers could be heard from the crowd. Then it was over.

But not quite. Hundreds piled into buses and went to New York City’s Central Park for a one-mile Buddy Walk. The watching crowd slapped high fives with the walkers and medals were presented at the finish line. It was only a moment in time, but was a lifetime of memories, with smiles on faces with pure love dripping from the tears of many who live with this blessing each and every day.

Yes, you read that correctly. A blessing each and every day. Down syndrome people are miracles of life, blessed with an extra chromosome that spreads happiness wherever they go and to everyone they meet. It’s a God-even talent saved exclusively for those extraordinary folks who bless us and teach us what truly is and is not important in life.

In full disclosure, Maddox McClintic is my granddaughter. I speak from experience when I say Maddox has taught me more than I could ever teach her. She sees the good in people and accepts our faults as if they don’t exist. She doesn’t care what color we are, what political party we prefer, whether we are too fat, too loud, or too old. She doesn’t care if we are rich or poor, male or female, Christian or Muslim. She sees us as we are and accepts our differences.

Why, then, do we sometimes look at Down syndrome children, silently thinking about how different they may be, or, worse yet, verbally expressing their differences. Maddox doesn’t see us that way, so I ask you, who is the disabled one? I can tell you it is not Maddox.

It is me, who has more baggage and preconceptions than I would admit to.

But I am learning. It is difficult.

But Maddox, although not alphabetically patient, as witnessed in New York, is patient with me. Someday, when I “grow up,” I hope to be more like her, seeing more of the beauty and goodness that surrounds us every day but are hidden by the messy details of life.

Like when Maddie reads me a book or catches a football tossed her way and I think, “God Bless you, Maddie.”

Then I realize, He already has.

I would love to hear about the Maddox’s in your life and the difference their lives made in yours. gregawtry@awtry.com.