It’s really weird watching a telethon when you know you might be one of its beneficiaries.
Special ed is wicked expensive, so I am thankful that Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions and Comedy Central present Night of Too Many Stars every couple of years to benefit organizations that provide appropriate educational services for kids on the spectrum.
When I was a kid I would watch the Jerry Lewis telethon. I’d see the images of kids struggling with muscular dystrophy, with their withered legs and twisted spines and cumbersome wheelchairs, and I’d just feel bad for them. These kids were totally Other to me: they were deformed, they needed help, they were charity cases. When I thought of Jerry’s Kids, I thought of something along the lines of Urban Dictionary’s current top definition of the phrase: “A retard who is behind some sort of window licking it whilst staring at you.Goodtimes.”
I don’t like to think of our family’s life as a charity case, but really, we’re not so different from Jerry’s Kids. Our child has special needs that cost more than a typical child’s, and there are warm-hearted people in the world who want to contribute to that (or maybe just want to buy the opportunity to pee with Seth Rogen).
But I’ll tell you, what brought me to tears was that “Firework” duet with Katy Perry and Jodi DiPiazza, a little girl for whom autism education has paid off. (If you haven’t seen it yet, get some tissues and click here.) I sobbed first from joy for all this child and her team have accomplished, then from anger and frustration that Ryan isn’t yet in that same place.
But our work continues.
Have I mentioned that Ryan’s going to perform in an adaptive production of The Nutcracker this winter? I’ll write more about that soon, but after just two rehearsals I can already tell you this show won’t be art, but it will be magical.