A Lesson From My Special Needs Friend

Friday, November 13, 2015

It was at about mile 4 when I saw him. His large, 3-wheeled, cherry red bicycle headed toward me. I had a mile to go before making it home to the chaos and responsibilities of my life. I was deep in thought about my struggles, my fears, my hopes. And I was also at the top of a steep climb on the paved trail.

I knew this bicycle, and I knew the man on it. His name is Kent and I attend church with him every Sunday. He sits in the very front row, mumbles to himself, and rides his prized bike everywhere he goes. He LOVES ringing the bell at church to signal it's time to change classes. He carries his iPad with him everywhere with a zoomed in digital clock displayed on the front so he always knows what time it is...to the second. I'm not sure what the "label" of his condition is, perhaps somewhere on the Autism spectrum,  I just know he has a kind and innocent heart. 

Determined, he peddled hard as he reached the base of the hill. He had his usual backpack, gloves, hat, and all sorts of other gear with him. I wasn't sure if he would recognize me but without skipping a beat, I continued my run toward him (I was at the bottom of the hill at this point), I switched directions, grabbed the metal basket on the end of his bike and while already pushing him uphill briefly asked, "Need some help?" 

He nodded vigorously and together we made it up the hill in no time. Neither one of us missed a single step or push of the pedal. There was no stopping to say, "Hi, Kent! Do you remember me from church? Would it be OK if I helped you?" 

Not only that, but once he made it to the top of the hill he just carried on and didn't even look back. I loved it. I loved that I was in the right place at the right time to help him up that hill. He got me entirely out of my thoughts and into action, which is what it seems I always need. And it's extremely likely he had no idea who the woman pushing him was. He is childlike in that most endearing of ways. 

I guess my takeaway from this experience, what I love most about it, is that helping him was so easy, so effortless. The way he accepted my help, with no hesitation or apologies, was so refreshing. My act of kindness was so small but something about the way he rode off to his destination without looking back made it even more special for me. I was going my way, he was going his. We were at different speeds, with different abilities, but we helped each other seamlessly. 

I smiled to myself the rest of the way home.

In print, the experience sounds so insignificant. "So a lady helped push some guy biking up a hill." But the feeling, the timing, the innocence, the blue sky and clean Park City air--it brought me back to the root of my spirit and my life.

He was going his way, I was going mine.  But we helped each other and showed love using hardly any words and no judgements or expectations. 30 seconds of bliss.


  1. I love moments like that. I'm one of the lucky ones who gets the honor of having those experiences frequently because I work in the medical field. There is nothing more rewarding than holding the hand of an elderly woman who is frightened for her future, or to comfort a family member who's loved one has just passed then run upstairs and to catch a fresh new spirit from Heaven. I live the dream of service and even tho the shifts are long and at night I am honored to serve God's children. Being in the right place at the right time is testimony that God has used us as His Hands, His heart. Bless you for being God's hands when He needed. Great post.

  2. That was really lovely. Thanks for sharing Molly.

  3. Both of my boys have autism - this was such a sweet post! The world needs more people like you. I'm always afraid that some people get offended when my verbal son doesn't say Thank you...he's still working on his social skills, ha ha.


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