My name is Will Ellery. I am 8 years old and I go to Parker Elementary. My mom works at Easter Seals. Sometimes I get to go to camp with her. When I do, if everyone has gone first and had all the turns they want at the activities, then sometimes I get to go too. I’ve never been able to do the ropes course because I always get scared. One time I put on the harness and that was all I could do. Another time I climbed up the ladder to get on the giant swing, but then I just climbed back down the ladder. One time I started climbing the rock wall, but then I came back down after halfway because I didn’t feel safe.
Before Thanksgiving I got to go to the Veterans and family camp. I met my friend, Ms. La’Tori, there. She was there by herself because her baby is sick. She is in the NICU at the hospital. I was in the NICU too when I was a baby so that’s something we have in common. Ms. La’Tori said she was going up the rock wall by herself, but she was going to wait for everybody else. I told her I wasn’t allowed to go until last, and only if there was enough time. She asked me if I had climbed the rock wall before, and I told her my stories about getting scared. She said, “Well, why don’t we try going together?”
So we stood and waited together. Sometimes I would get butterflies in my stomach. I asked Ms. La’Tori if she was sure we could go together. She said yes. I asked her if she would stay with me and not go too fast. She said yes to that too. Some of the big older boys were going up the wall fast like Spiderman!
When it was our turn I went on the left side and Ms. La’Tori went on the right side. She smiled real big and asked if I was ready. I said yes and we started climbing. Ms. La’Tori stayed right next to me. Sometimes I even went a little faster than her! When I had trouble on the hard parts she asked me if I was okay. She tried to help me by pointing to rocks I could put my hands and feet on.
I made it to the top first! When I got to the top I cheered for Ms. La’Tori so she could make it to the top too. I was hoping we could go down the zipline together, but there was a line of people on her side. I thought I would be scared to go down the zipline because I wasn’t going with Ms. La’Tori. But you know what? Once I got all the way to the top, nothing was scary anymore! It’s like I just had to climb the wall once and then I got brave.
Since I went down the zipline first, I got to watch Ms. La’Tori from the ground. I guessed she was probably scared up there. So I yelled real loud that she didn’t need to worry and that it was going to be so much fun. She went down the zipline a really brave way – backwards!
I’m really glad I met Ms. La’Tori at camp. She helped me do something I never got to do before!
Note from Will’s mom (Christine Ellery, Easter Seals Program Director): Some of the greatest blessings of working at Easter Seals have been the experiences and interactions with people my kids have had. From a young age, my kids have met people of all ages and all abilities and disabilities, and as Easter Seals has expanded its Veterans Program, my kids have met amazing Veterans and Veteran families. All these people have helped to shape my kids and their capacity for kindness and compassion.
About Will’s story above… One thing worth mentioning is La’Tori is an Air Force Veteran, so probably not as afraid of heights as Will guessed! I loved and appreciated how capable and brave La’Tori made Will feel, from the times she let him climb a little faster than her, to her taking in all his words (um, screams) of ziplining advice and no-fear from below. She made him feel so confident. And I hope being at Veterans and family camp made La’Tori feel confident. As a mom whose baby was also in the NICU, I know there are so many questions and so much to be anxious about; it’s hard to feel confident. But watching La’Tori with Will, it’s so easy to see what a great mom she is. I’m so excited La’Tori’s sweet baby girl gets to come home soon!