This I Believe

Alicia - Leesburg, Virginia
Entered on April 13, 2007

I Believe in Jimmy

I believe in Jimmy. Through him, I can see that there is still goodness in this world. Jimmy was born with a rare disease called Ataxia-Telangiectasia, or A-T for short. This disease attacks mobility, speech, and slowly deteriorates the cerebral part of the brain. However, his determination and heart is the strongest I’ve ever seen. Everyday Jimmy wakes up to face a new set of challenges, yet never complains. Most people will never know the hardships he endures, but a little empathy could put one in his shoes for a while.

Jimmy and his parents may not be my blood relatives but I don’t believe that blood always makes up who your family is. My mom grew up with my Aunt Carol and so she and my Uncle Jim have always been a part of my life and at times I feel closer to them than my actual blood relatives. I believe in my feelings of family, not the genetic make-up.

In the short 13 years he has been a part of my life, Jimmy has accomplished more then I could in a life time. How nice would it be to have dinner with former President Bill Clinton? Or rubs shoulders with “A-List” celebrities? By any “normal” person’s standards, these would be life-defining moments. However, Jimmy doesn’t care about the titles people have held or the number of movies they’ve been in. He’s too busy already planning for the future. Jimmy wishes to drive a bus to California with his friends when he turns 18. This is a mighty big wish for someone with his condition, but it doesn’t matter. I believe in Jimmy’s strength.

I don’t remember when I realized that Jimmy was sick. I just always remember him as a happy kid in a wheelchair. It was never a big deal as he didn’t let it slow him down. There was one time when my family was staying at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Virginia. We drove up and stayed the night on the farm. The next morning my brother, sister, Jimmy and I went out to collect chicken eggs. As soon as we got out of the house, Jimmy took off for the chicken coop, leaving my siblings and me racing to catch up. As soon as we were done getting the eggs from the coop, off he went again to where the hay bales were stored. Jimmy knew that sometimes the chickens left eggs there as well and we were only left in the dust, to trail along after him. That day I realized Jimmy wasn’t letting this disease slow him down, and the rest of the world needed to adjust to his pace.

A couple years later they sold the farm and moved down to Williamsburg in southern Virginia. I wish they had kept it though, I remember it was one of the best weekends of my life. Though they no longer have the farm, I remember the time I spent there, and I believe in my memories.

The last time I saw Jimmy was last June at my graduation party. Now permanently restrained to a wheel chair, Jimmy sat there as a shy kid in front of all my others guests. There were many people that I hadn’t seen in a long time, but his presence meant the most. I wish I had spent more time with him because who knows when I’ll get to see him again. Seeing him sitting there quietly next to my Aunt and Uncle was kind of a shock. I’m used to Jimmy being a very charismatic person, and to watch him acting shy around people was a little unnerving. However I know this was not the Jimmy I know and love. This was just that days’ Jimmy. I believe that Jimmy will always be a happy-go-lucky kid. I believe in him.