From the Sidelines: Lessons from a Little Leaguer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Next time you&8217;re surfing the Web with little aim, Google Adam Bender. The Lexington Herald-Leader&8217;s Mike Fields did a story on the extraordinary kid who is doing his best to lead an ordinary life.

Bender, an 8-year-old Kentucky kid, lost his left leg to cancer when he was only one. Despite what most of us view as a disability, Bender plays catcher for his Little League team. Moreover, he plays it effectively. According to Fields, at one point during the season, Bender led the league in put outs at home.

He uses crutches to get from the dugout to the plate, leaving them near the backstop while he

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mans his defensive post. When his turn to bat comes around, Bender&8217;s first base coach holds onto the crutches. If he reaches safely, his given the aids to run the bases.

The Web article also carries an accompanying link for a highlight video of Bender&8217;s baseball prowess.

In addition to his efforts on the diamond, Bender has proven effective at youth soccer and flag football. The story is remarkable.

According to Fields&8217; story, Bender does not like being asked about his circumstances, preferring to be held in the same regard as every other kid on the field. He makes no excuses, offers no apologies and just plays the game.

Fields&8217; article includes quotes from Bender&8217;s parents, who tell of their hope that Adam&8217;s triumphs will inspire other physically-challenged children and their families. However, as noble as that goal is, it seems Adam Bender&8217;s unrelenting claim to normalcy should also serve as a sobering lesson to those of us who don&8217;t have to overcome sizable disadvantages on a daily basis.

The fact is that most of us possess all five senses and full usage of each of our extremities, yet we find some reason not to achieve. We frequently seem to moan and groan about the menial tasks involved in day-to-day living, never mustering the gumption to face something more daunting. It seems we allow our vision of ourselves to be placed within limitations that truly don&8217;t exist.

Perhaps that is why Adam Bender&8217;s story is so touching. It boasts a degree of determination and sheer force of will so many of us long to find in our own lives.

With little intention of doing so, 8-year-old Adam Bender gracefully shows us we are capable of much more than we allow ourselves to realize. With every step he takes on the field, Adam defiantly, if unwittingly, exclaims to the world that trepidation and worry are far more crippling than disability.

So next time you&8217;re surfing the Web with little aim, Google Adam Bender and take a look at an amazing kid who just may cause you to take a look at yourself.

Jeremy D. Smith is sports editor for The Demopolis Times. His column runs weekly.