After publicly addressing an issue, it turns that a pre-concieved notion about my beliefs and/or thoughts may being greatly assumed.
To better understand, I made the decision to share a part of my life, that I thought would help others
understand the type of person that I am.
Growing up, I went to school with a guy named Ted, who became a staple of Pleasanton ISD in Pleasanton, Texas. His condition is one that is difficult to describe because as young kids, we were unable to pinpoint any particular syndrome.
As adults, I had the honor of doing a sports story about Ted because of his love of high school sports which is unimaginable. He often helped the sports department at the Pleasanton Express newspaper where I worked, with stats he had stored in his brain – stats that may have occurred many years prior.
I interviewed his mother and I point blank asked her about his syndrome. She could only describe his condition as a combination of Tourette and Down Syndrome as well as autism.
Each one of the conditions can be seen in Ted, but they are minor in a sense. He carries a valid driver’s license and lives a life where he needs no extra care.
I always remember in school how everyone accepted Ted because he was able to attend some classes with us. And when others may have ridiculed him, we were quick to tell those to leave him alone.
Ted grew protected with a large group of students at Pleasanton High School. Even at graduation, he drew the biggest standing ovation that made everyone at that ceremony tear up.
After graduating from high school in 1983, Ted remained a part of Pleasanton High School as a “statistician” for football, baseball, and softball as well as washing uniforms. A position the school felt they could create, just to keep Ted on board.
I remember working at the newspaper covering a football game and rushing back to the office after the game to compile stats to submit to the San Antonio Express-News before a deadline of 10:30 p.m.
With only minutes to spare, I fumbled with my calculator trying to add up big rushing yards and passing yards.
As I struggled, Ted closed his eyes, hummed and wiggled a pencil with his fingers before coming up with the answers to the stats.
I questioned the first answer, sternly asking, “are you sure Ted? That seems awfully extreme to have 289 passing yards.” As I added them up on the calculator, he was right.
From then on, I never questioned his math ability. The man is brilliant when it comes to numbers and sports history of Pleasanton High School.
Later on as I worked for the Pleasanton Express, I was then blessed to have met Ben, who was then a student at Pleasanton High School.
Ben had Down Syndrome and was in life skills class at 9:30 a.m. every day, a class that was conducted by the head football coach.
During a weekly Monday morning meeting with the head football coach, it was always heart warming to get a handshake and welcome greeting from Ben, as he swept the field house floor.
Ben was a special friend to me as well. And when I found out he had finished school, I never saw him again, until one day at the grocery store.
As I entered, I heard someone yelling for me “Mr. Elizondo, Mr. Elizondo.” I turned to see Ben sweeping the floors of the store. He ran up to me just like when I would see him at the high school. I told him I had missed seeing him and he smiled to answer, “I miss you and Coach Dumont, too.”
I think that these people were given to us as a reason. They are unique people with their own unique way.
I grew up with Ted and explained to my son the importance of accepting someone with his condition or any other condition for that matter. Now, with a stepchild, I instill that because it is important to accept everyone, no matter the circumstances.
Ted knew my son and often would report back to me, if he had acted up in school.
I guess you can say that growing up with Ted, I knew no different. It was an every day part of life, spending it with Ted, because to us, he was a part of us.
Today, I don’t know how I would handle it if I knew that something happened to him. Even Ben for that matter.
The simplest way of putting it is that you love people like Ted and in essence, they love everyone back.
I was raised to be accepting of others and I have carried that through to my family. Any other notions that people may perceive are way off base.