You read a lot lately about the word “intolerance.” It’s a concept that’s got people from all walks of life sharing concerned comments, all across social media.
At first glance, it would seem to be a fairly straightforward issue. But click through virtually any discussion thread, and you’ll often find an incredibly complex array of opinions and ideas on the subject.
When a hate crime actually occurs close to home, however, it often provides a degree of gut-punch intensity that hits us at a fundamental level.
Maybe that’s why shocked onlookers are uniformly outraged about something that happened in Central Illinois not long ago.
The Hollis family already had two biological sons, when they decided there was plenty of room in their hearts for two more kids. They fell in love with two orphaned little girls and decided to adopt them.
The girls they welcomed into their caring brood both have Down syndrome — but that didn’t stop them from filling the Hollis household with light, learning, and laughter. Unfortunately, it appeared certain individuals in the local community weren’t overjoyed by their arrival.
One morning, the family awoke to discover that their home’s exterior had been brutally vandalized with bright red spray paint.
Many of the words were unprintable, some were ironically misspelled, and all were appallingly cruel.
Hundreds reacted with horror. But that’s not the end of the story.
It was the two sweet little girls, Meg and Alina, who had been cruelly singled out. But it was the two Hollis sons who chose not to take this insultingly ignorant treatment lying down.
The young boys, then aged 6 and 7, decided to make a video in support of their sisters. So with the help of their parents, they began writing pointed messages on several note cards.
Then they sat in front of a video camera and had themselves filmed displaying the cards in order. Let’s just say they managed to straighten a few things out about Down syndrome — and they left inspired viewers everywhere applauding.
Many of the cards featured empowering action words starting with the letters “R-E.” This, presumably, was a defiant call-out to one of the most offensive graffiti words, which hadn’t even been spelled correctly by the anonymous perpetrators.
Through this stirring selection of positive, uplifting reminders, both brothers asserted that their sisters “are changing the world!” And it’s well worth noting that other supportive organizations are taking up the charge, as well.
Illinois-based Gigi’s Playhouse, for example, has expanded to international prominence with 35 Down Syndrome Achievement Centers across the United States and Mexico. Every year, it offers free therapeutic, educational, and career training programs for more than 30,000 individuals of all ages.
That’s an awful lot of dynamic, determined, resilient folks who are ready to make an incredible difference in this world. The Hollis family can introduce you to two beautiful, amazing examples — who are lucky to have two completely awesome brothers.
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