Teen Sacrifices Time to Help Special Needs Family

Marj Hatzell

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There are still some people in the world that renew my faith in humanity whenever I hear of them. And sometimes those awesome people are kids. Take Rudy Favard, for example. Rudy is a 17-year-old high school student who volunteers with a local family in Boston. But he doesn't just volunteer, he makes an impact. He helps a family. He makes a difference.

The Parker Family has twin boys, one of whom is severely disabled and has Cerebral Palsy. Up until recently, Rick Parker carried his son up the narrow, winding staircase leading to the second floor each and every night before bed and bath time. When Rick suffered a heart attack, however, he could no longer carry his 75-pound son. That's where Rudy comes in.

When the family was frantically searching for someone to help them lift Sammy, their child with CP, they were eventually directed to a local Catholic High School, which required service projects for their students. A young, Haitian immigrant, co-captain of the football team and honor student, was the first to answer the call, without hesitation. And now he's like a member of the family.

Several nights a week, Rudy makes the drive to the Parkers' home to assist with Sammy. And he doesn't just help Sammy. He's there for Ben, Sammy's twin brother. He's there for Rick and Patty, Sammy's parents. He's not there for himself. He shyly states that Sammy has done more for him than he's done for Sammy.

Rudy won't be there to help forever. He's heading to college soon and the Parkers are looking for a new house, one more handicapped accessible. But Rudy's simple act has affected this family, and himself, forever. It just goes to show you that a small act can make a huge impact in the life of a child and on a family's life.

See, families with special needs need help sometimes. They can't do it alone. They need an army of therapists, doctors, babysitters, respite workers, and family members to improve their quality of life. My family is no exception. If I didn't have family members living close by willing to drop by at a moment's notice, great neighbors with a key to my house, or a teenage babysitter who loves my son almost as much as I do, I don't know how I'd be able to function. And sometimes the kindness of strangers is all we have to go on.

The tiniest deed sometimes can make the biggest difference in our lives. And we appreciate it far more than we can ever explain. My heart grows three sizes when I read about kids like Rudy. Yes, he was required to do a project but he didn't have to pick a family like the Parkers. And he doesn't just carry Sammy upstairs and leave. He spends time with the family.

If you know a family living with special needs, find out what you can do. The simplest act, the smallest detail, can make a huge impact. Give them a call. Send them a card. Let them know you care. Bring them a cup of coffee. You can make a difference, too. C'mon, it'll make you feel good!

Have you volunteered? 

Image via Marj Hatzell

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