Today was Senior Day for the Women’s Basketball Team at the Univeristy of Delaware in Newark. Senior Day at any High School or College is a tradition that is rich in emotion and caring. It is a day where parents and family get to honor the efforts of their children who have devoted years to become scholar athletes. For anyone who has been there, it is a bittersweet event. Honoring one with the knowledge that you will not see him or her perform again is difficult.
Next Year, near this time, a similar event will occur and one of the seniors will be someone who is arguably the finest University of Delaware athlete ever. I am speaking of Elena Delle Donne. Personally, I have seen some great athletes at UD and the one I would compare her with is Rich Gannon. Both EDD and Gannon could dominate a game singlehandedly. Both make their teammates better. But my post is not about EDD. It is about her older sister, Lizzie Delle Donne.
Lizzie Delle Donne is deaf, blind, and has cerebal palsy. She has limited ability to communicate. She has been taught hand signals. This is pretty much the way Helen Keller learned to communicate.
Some may say she is mentally retarded. But considering her significant sensory handicaps we don’t really know why she is where she is at. It is very unfair to assess the intellectual capability of anyone whose sensory deprivations deprived her of the ability to learn. We all learned in our formative years through our eyes and ears.
Our ability to learn depends on our senses. We need sight to read. We need hearing to learn from the speech of others. Lizzie was deprived of this.
Lizzie is now 27 and her little sister (6’5″ tall) is arguably the best female basketball player in the nation. Everyone in the family says that it is Lizzie who inspires them everyday. Lizzie is also the reason that Elena came home to Delaware and chose not to play basketball at the University of Connecticut. The stories are out there for anyone who wants to use Google. The fact is Elena cannot communicate with her sister through Facebook. They communicate through touch and smell. As I have said the stories are out there for anyone who wants to do a Google Search.
The Delle Donne family has been very successful. They have a succussful Commercial Development Business. Elena and Lizzie’s brother played quarterback for Sallies in Wilmington and he also played on the Sallies basketball team who were runners up to Middletown in the State Basketball tournament a decade ago.
I have been around many special education teachers. Many times they have been complimented on how they inspire their students to achieve. The typical response from those teachers is that it is their students who inspire them.
Elena Delle Donne has said repeatedly that her older sister Lizzie is the one who inspires her.
Every Human life has value. God has a plan for everyone. The fact that we can’t see it is our problem.