My friend Glenda has Cerebral Palsy and she is way cool! She is very funny and very smart and I like her a lot. She wrote a book called I’ll Do It Myself. My mom has been reading it to me and we laugh during parts of it and cry during other parts. Do you know why? Well I’ll tell you. It’s because Glenda’s story and mine have things in common and we are both very smart, determined, very funny and we overcome hurdles in our lives because of our courage and tenacity…whatever that is! Well, except that I am a dog and she is a person but you already knew that, right?
I’ll tell you more about Glenda later but here’s one very cool part of her story. When she was little and in the hospital, she had gone through a lot because of the Cerebral Palsy and her parents knew that if she could see her little dog Bonnie, she would feel better. Guess what? They made it happen. Glenda got a visit from Bonnie while she was in the very clean and sterile hospital! How cool is that?
I wish I could have been allowed to see my human mom when she was in the hospital but I wasn’t because nobody pushed the issue. Glenda’s mom and dad must be so awesome to have accomplished what they did. They must be very remarkable, just like I am. Well, except that I am “Remarkable Rugby Jones” and they are remarkable Glenda’s Mom and Dad. Don’t you agree?”
“Believe it and you will achieve it,” says one parent. “Don’t try because you may fail,” says another. Still another says, “You can’t do that.” And another says, “You are different and you won’t be able to succeed.” Yet another says, “You have a handicap but you can accomplish anything if you believe you can!”
What kind of parent are you? Time for some soul searching here!
Are you the kind of parent who compliments your child for anything and everything? If you are, you are not helping your child because he or she doesn’t believe you or your false compliments.
Maybe you are the kind of parent who tells your child that he or she “can’t” when the child tries? If you are that kind of parent, your child will assume that he or she shouldn’t be confident.
Are you the kind of parent who is honest with your child? Because you believe in your child’s abilities and you help your child learn how to accomplish goals through work, perseverance and discipline. An example of this kind of parenting is Stash Serafin’s mother and how she helped her blind child succeed.
Believe It! Achieve it!
“In the middle of the vortex is the eye of the storm. There’s a stillness and a quiet in there. The eye of the storm is the real metaphor of my life,” he said. “If you can’t see, you might as well do the things your mom taught you in the little circle.”
The little circle has been Serafin’s safe haven since his childhood on a four-acre farm in Blue Bell.
“It all started with a little circle my mom would do on the front lawn,” he said. “She would put acorns in her pockets. She’d say, ‘Catch me if you can,’ and start running. I would hear the acorns rattle and I would chase her. She’d start with a small circle around me, then make it bigger and bigger. Eventually, her circle became the whole front lawn.
“I must have incorporated that when I started skating,” he said. “I would work in a little tiny area and never leave that area until I felt comfortable about where I was.”
Looking back over a half-century to his childhood, he still draws strength from it to navigate through his blindness.
“The thing my family did was, they just assumed I was going to be a regular kid, so they . . . let me do whatever I could do,” he said. “I learned to climb trees. I don’t know how. I just did.
Believe it! Achieve it!
My parents were always supportive about my skating though they felt uncomfortable that I was the only blind skater in the world with little support from any organizations. They were always proud of me. I passed figure tests, dance, and free style tests — All with flying colors and high marks. ”
In a 2007 memoir, A Skating Life: My Story, the Olympian Dorothy Hamill said she was “moved to tears by Stash’s courageous performance” at a show in Wilmington in the 1970s.
“He didn’t let his blindness stop him from expressing his passion on the ice,” Hamill wrote, adding that Serafin stirred her to teach ice skating to children from the Los Angeles School for the Blind.
Competitively, Serafin won an artistic solo gold medal for his figure skating routine at the 2014 Gay Games 9 in Cleveland, interpreting his own musical composition, “I Don’t See You But I Sense You.”