Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Helping Sally Swim

--by optimist, posted Apr 12, 2007
Each year I volunteer at a camp for children with asthma. Having the condition myself, I went there myself as a camper, then became a counselor when I was of age.  This camp is an wonderful place that I could spend days talking about - it does amazing things to the kids who go through the program. I've met a multitude of unforgettable individuals there, but one child definitely stands out.

One year, as a Senior Counselor, I was in charge of one Teams for games and activities. On the first day, the camp director came to talk to me, leading a small girl. For the purposes of this story, I will call her Sally. She was adorable, vivacious, smart, funny, and about 9 years old. And, in additon to asthma, she had sickle cell disease. This meant I had to keep a very, very close eye on her, particularly during games. Overexertion, dehydration, overheating, being too cold, not being able to breathe right: these were all things that could spell major trouble for Sally. They were things that could potentially be life threatening.

Because of her condition, Sally was not allowed to go swimming in the camp's pool: the water had to be at least 80 degrees for her to swim, and that had never happened in the camp's history. She wanted to SO bad, though. Then, worst heat wave ever hit camp. While this made most others miserable, Sally was in heaven; for the first time, the water temperature hit 80 degrees. She begged and pleaded, so I took her to one of the camp doctors. He gave her clearance, and Sally and I headed for the pool. It was there that I found out that Sally had rarely ever been swimming, and did not actually know how to swim.

Now, I'm not the world's greatest swimmer, but I couldn't take looking at her face as she watched all the other kids shooting through the water like dolphins. So we got to work. 15 minutes later, everyone in camp knew. She ran from person to person, bragging about the fact that she, who could never swim before, was now a regular little otter.

Sally will always have many more problems than the rest of us have to deal with. It may be years before she gets to swim again. But for that day, she was able to rise above the things that were holding her back and find that she could do anything. And knowing that I had helped put that smile on her face made me feel like I had really touched a life. It wasn't just about learning how to swim; it was about rising above.
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Readers Comments

Bambi wrote: There is a reason that everyone goes through something in their life. Your gift to Sally is exactly what she needed from you. Your experience, patience and understanding to help make her feel special that day. Keep up the great work!
ADEMI wrote: Wow! you are one in a million. That is very good of you, I feel a alift in my spirit. Keep it up sister.
Ginny wrote: Not only did you help Sally, but you heled other people learn that nouthing can stop anybody. Even if you have to wait for years for this to happen it will.
onekindact wrote: This is such a heart warming and powerful story!
thanks for sharing
lovebug wrote: Dear optimist, and firendlysmile, yout both encourage me to stand in my small space and be who I was greated to be, small insinificant and over looked, but my spirit says keep standing, there will be one, you will touch. I don't have to know who that someone will be.
speedi wrote: what a wonderful special thing you did
Bless you
Jeniffer wrote: That is really a very touching story! You were meant to be at that exact spot in time and you rose to the occasion!! Helping children is especially rewarding because you have taught a little girl the meaning of kindness and the overwhelming happiness that comes from it! Inspiring!!
vanessa wrote: That was a great story! I was born premature and have asthma myself. I know how it feels to be left out of certain activities. It was wonderful that you made this little girl's day!
pushpa wrote: oh..that's very nice of you ...i really loved it..and also felt very sad realising the fact there are many such children and adults with such health problems...i feel very helpless whenever i come across such people..but now onwards instead of feelin helpless and sad, i'll try to think about things i can do to make them happy ....thanks for sharing your experience with us and inturn teaching us a kindness lesson.....thumbs up to you....
Afriendlysmile wrote: Hi Optimist

A great thing you did for that little girl, a really inspiring story.

Afriendlysmile :)

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