Any parent would be proud to say their kid made the three-pointer right before the final buzzer in a high school basketball game. But Maria Furey isn't "any" parent. She's the mom of Shannon, a high school senior whose special needs have mystified geneticists since she was a baby.
For her, Shannon's three-point shot signifies more than just a perfect arc between hand and hoop. It was that magic moment when a girl who has done the best she can at sports since she was 5 got her last chance to play in the varsity basketball game. And she nailed it! I almost cried watching it, so I had to hear how Maria felt. But first, get a load of this shot:
Are you welling up?
Let me give you a little context: the 17-year-old has an undiagnosed developmental delay, along with a heart issue found when she was just 3 days old. She's had speech, occupational, and physical therapy since she was 11 months old, and she's slated for heart surgery soon to correct the pulmonary stenosis that have existed since birth. Regular visits with a geneticist haven't given the family answers, but they keep trying.
And so does Shannon.
As Maria told The Stir, when her middle child joined the team at Saugus High School, it was more about being part of something.
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"From the very beginning, I wanted Shannon to be integrated with other children with school and sports, to be part of the regular kids," Maria says. "Shannon started playing town soccer and basketball when she was 5 years old, with her father coaching a lot until high school.
"Shannon then played soccer and basketball for high school in her sophomore year," the mom of three continued. "I would talk to the coaches to let them know about Shannon's disabilities. Shannon doesn't run fast due to her low muscle tone. The coaches would put her in a little here and there, which was fine for us and Shannon. It was just about being part of a team that made us and Shannon happy. Shannon would love to go to practices and she would go at her own pace."
Then came the last game, and the coach put Shannon in. She got the ball, saw her shot, and took it. And just like my eyes when I saw that video, Maria's were filling with tears. Her words sound like those I've heard from a lot of parents of kids who have special needs.
"I was so happy for her and for all the support and kindness. It has been challenging with Shannon's disability, my son having type 1 diabetes, and just the daily life things that go on," she said. "We just deal what comes our way and are thankful for what we have. Shannon is such a happy kid and makes us and everyone smile all the time!"
Has your child been given this kind of support? What was your "I'm so thankful" moment?
Image via Maria Furey