About 40 miles north of Chicago, in Lake County, there is a special school called Laremont, and it was there a few weeks ago that I was reminded how fortunate I am in my line of work.
You see, I’ve worked for the last five years in customer service for Rifton. And because I cover the state of Illinois, every two years I attend an event there for school therapists. This year I scheduled an extra half day to visit the Laremont School.
Laremont is a center-based school that provides services for 150 students with profound and multiple disabilities. Several years ago one of their students, Scott, died at the age of 11. Scott loved his Rifton trike, and after his death his parents came and visited us at Rifton. They wanted to see where their son’s trike had come from, and a special friendship formed. Since then Laremont organizes an annual 5K race called Running for Scott, and they use the money they raise to buy more trikes for kids like Scott.
Upon arriving at Laremont three of us from Rifton were given a tour by Liz and Jen, two therapists there. It was heartwarming to meet the kids and witness their love for the staff. To my astonishment, we were treated like visiting royalty. Students and staff were wearing Running for Scott tee-shirts in his honor, and to welcome us.
And then, in a moment of pure magic that I won’t forget, we were led to the center of the building where the four main hallways intersected. We were asked to be seated in three chairs prepared for us, and, on cue, music started playing over the public address system. From doorways up and down each hallway poured children in walkers, wheeled chairs, mobile standers, gait trainers. Some propelling themselves, some walking haltingly, some being pushed or guided by staff. They converged around us, a throng of stunningly beautiful humanity, each carrying a flower and a hand-made greeting, coming to thank us. To thank us! What had we done to deserve this outpouring? I still don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. I was there, and that is enough. To each of you at Laremont, I will always treasure your gifts. Thank you and merry Christmas!
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