Of all the things I read on social media, I would call it a 50-50 split as to the opinions of folks concerning the decisions made by school personnel. There were a lot of comments that were extremely negative toward school officials. Others maintain the weather is always a crap shoot and therefore we should just move on.
At the same time this venom was being spewed, public safety and other government personnel were working around the clock to find and incorporate solutions to the problems that were occurring. There wasn’t time to point fingers and lay blame; there was work to be done.
The around-the-clock work didn’t stop with the government officials either. Many of our citizens were out in the weather risking their own safety to help others. They too were becoming a part of the solution as opposed to diagnosing the problem.
So this brings me to a social media post I saw that reminded me of what a great community we live in.
I imagine I have known Joe Dowda and his family my entire life. Many know Joe from the gas station he once ran in front of Ingles. Many more know him from Darby Funeral Home. Joe has been the same every time we have seen each other. He has always treated me well for no other reason than that’s just who he is. I certainly have done nothing for him.
Joe’s daughter Kathy married Mike Taylor several years ago. She met him and married him knowing that he had two sons, Matthew and Alec. What makes this a little different from most is that Matthew has Down syndrome.
There are probably challenges associated with this that parents face and most of us will never understand. But Kathy married into it. Her eyes were wide open. And so was her heart.
She posted a video of Matthew on Facebook doing his very best to sweep the snow off their deck so it would be gone. He was doing his part to help the situation.
Kathy said he isn’t a big fan of snow and rather than sit and complain, he got up and did something about it. I’m with Matthew on this one. I’m not a fan of snow either, so I got out and did my small part.
Can you imagine what we could accomplish if we only had the heart of young Matthew? Look at the hand life has dealt him. Yet when there is something he doesn’t like, he grabs a broom and does something about it.
Some have said it gives him an opportunity to feel normal. I say he is perfectly normal just like God made him. He taught us all a lesson. If there is something in your life you don’t like, do something to change it.
My first experience with someone with Down syndrome was a young lady named Mary Ann DeBord. She was the sister of Charlotte Green.
I remember as a young child being afraid of her. She wanted hugs and it scared me. Looking back I can now see that she only wanted to be loved. That sounds pretty normal to me.
So I want to take this opportunity to thank all of public safety, every government employee and every citizen that was part of the solution during this week’s snow event.
And I also want to give a special thanks to Matthew Taylor for getting out in the cold and doing his part to remedy the problem we were all facing. While facing Down syndrome every day of his life, this young man refused to make excuses and blame others for his situation. He simply picked up a broom and got to work.
Matthew, you are an example to us all. Thank you.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.