“Hi Mom!”

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

'Hi Mom! I'm going to Disneyland!'

“People love coming on television, even if they have to show their miseries.”~ Victoria Abril
I stayed up kind of late last night, and I’m not sure as to why. But it would turn out to be a good idea.
 
Due to the fact that the NFL Playoffs were on so late and some dumb American Idol special, it caused the late local news to be VERY late news.
 
Before a commercial break right before the sports segment, I heard the words “sled hockey”, and I turned and looked but missed whatever they were previewing. So I sat there waiting for the news to come back on so that the sports would be shown.
 
Of course, with the NFL Playoffs and then the news of the death of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, these were some of the more highlighted stories of the broadcast. And I kept yelling at the television, “C’mon already!”. I was just far too anxious to see what I would see.
 
And then, they brought it to a “local setting”. And that’s when I would see our Paralympic Event being broadcast on television from the Cedar Park Center.
 
Keep in mind, nobody interviewed me while I was participating, but there was about a half of a second of video footage of me lazily skating across the ice. But they did interview a teammate and our new team leader. Both of which didn’t get a lot of face time either.
 
And that was my moment of glory for 2012, appearing on television in less than a blink of an eye.
 
This doesn’t happen to me a lot, but this is also not the first time that I’ve been on television. The moment that I saw myself last night made me think about the other times that I had been on television before when I was much younger.
 
Many times I’ve been in the background of some video footage as I was last night. But then when I was only eight years old, I did two commercials. It was for a fundraising event to build a wheelchair accessible swimming pool on the grounds of Camp Aldersgate in Arkansas. A summer camp designed for handicapped youth. Something I went to for six days each and every summer until I was nine years old.
 
The first commercial, I stood in the background with another girl who also had Spina Bifida, just like me. And the gentleman who was in charge of this project spoke. I didn’t say anything, neither did the girl.
 
But the second commercial, I actually had lines to speak. They attempted to make it sound like I was having a conversation with the girl about the difficulties of going to this camp and having to go completely out of the way on a rented school bus to get to the nearest public swimming pool. Other children that had disabilities more severe than my own, struggled with what seemed like to them, life and death, just to get on board the bus.
 
I remember when they had asked my parents if I would do it. My father would ask me if I could say words like “therapeutic” and “donation”.
 
It was kind of difficult because we had to say our lines and be done in 28 seconds. Not one second more, not one second less. Take after take after take before we finally got it right.
 
I did those two commercials. My family & I caught them on television four times at home. But it was always the commercial that I had the “conversation” with the other girl. Only once did my family catch the FIRST commercial with the gentleman who spoke that was in charge.
 
I became quite popular in the neighborhood, in school, and anywhere I went. People would recognize me from television. Even my own school principal and the school office staff would make a big deal out of it whenever they would see me. The principal insisting that I give an autograph. Other people wanted my autograph as well. Including the older neighborhood kids. They were kinda proud to say to their friends that they knew the kid in the commercial.
 
Then my family went to watch my older brother play high school basketball, and I had a crowd of people surrounding me wherever I went. It was fun, but at the same time really scary and creepy.
 
Shortly after that, I would be there for the groundbreaking ceremony. Myself and my co-star standing there with shovels as dignitaries and local politicians on hand to help in our needs to stabilize our balance on the uneven terrain.
 
The mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas stood behind me and helped as I kept digging as best I could with a shovel. I can still hear in my head his commands of “PUSH!” and “GRUNT HARDER!”, as he whispered to me that the grunting would help me dig deeper into the ground. The media was there and I ended up on the front page of the newspaper.
 
Who was I to argue with the mayor? I was always told to respect those who were my elders and those who were in positions of power. So when he said to grunt, I grunted!!!
 
It would happen again at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Front page news with photograph included.
 
The swimming pool was built some time later and I was the first person in it. They placed me in a wheelchair and I had scores of parents, politicians, private donators, and members of the local media, as well as the governor of Arkansas at the time, Bill Clinton, in attendance.
 
A few speeches were made, and there I was cutting this ribbon along side a volunteer who had been a camp counselor ever since I can remember when I would go to the camp during the summer.
 
The ramp was built in the shallow end of the swimming pool. But as you went further and further down the ramp, the surface of the pool water would rise. First your feet, then up to your knees, then to your waist. But by the time it got past your waist, your body freely and instinctively just floated away from the wheelchair and then VOILA!!– You were swimming.
 
Being a child, it was a creepy feeling. But then again, the way it worked was a complete and total success. It was the first of its kind I understand today. Probably the first wheelchair accessible swimming pool ever built.
 
That was probably thirteen out of my fifteen minutes of fame spent. Not bad for an eight year old boy, huh??
 
I’m tempted to call the television station that recorded the commercials to see if they still have it in their archives. I would love to get a copy of it. The station still exists as it was back then. But I’ve not tried it as of yet.
 
If they do have it and they send it to me, then perhaps I’ll upload it to YouTube or something.
 
But since that time, I’ve been in video footage that had been on the news at one point or another. Only one time that I can remember did I actually have an interview with the journalist who was covering a story, but I also remember they edited about 80% of what I had said. I guess for time limitations for the story. I don’t know.
 
They totally edited out the part where I turned and shouted, “HI MOM!!!” on camera. Sorry bastards..!
 
However, seeing myself on television last night was kinda cool. Nothing to write home about. But still … kinda cool. I was just at the right place at the right time.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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