Last Friday I opened my Facebook page – as I do on way too many occasions throughout the day – and noticed I had a private message from a reader:
“Jo, I enjoy your writing about the special needs community. You are able to uniquely show a compassionate and caring viewpoint to those with special needs. It is my understanding that iPad minis are a great help to those on the autism spectrum. I would like to donate 1 iPad mini to a local family that would put it to good use. ” – R.O.
By this point my eyes were blurry from the tears. What a kind and generous gesture! The only requests he made were that his identity remain anonymous, and that the iPad go to a local child. Since we live in the same city, we agreed to meet in front of our local Target (I brought my husband along). We walked up and he was already there, waiting for us. He handed me the iPad mini, a case, and a receipt (“I didn’t want you to think I was passing along stolen merchandise,” he told me), and I was overcome with emotion. But it was what he said next that really touched my heart.
His mother had passed away the previous month at the age of 88. She was an avid reader of The Orange County Register, a publication I have been freelancing for for several years now. He told me that his mother loved my work so much that she would cut out my articles and pass them along to him. I know that my articles get shared via Facebook, email, and Twitter, and I’m always grateful for the exposure, but something about an elderly woman taking the time to cut out my work because she deemed it valuable enough to pass along to others humbled me beyond words.
Through tears, I promised to give the iPad to a local special needs child who would greatly benefit from it. I explained to him that for my son Andrew, the iPad has truly been a miracle on so many levels. We hugged and parted ways, and my husband and I walked back to our car speechless as the generosity of this stranger (though he no longer felt like a stranger after our encounter).
We talked the entire way home about how wonderful it was that we would be able to gift the iPad to someone who could really use it, and that’s when we realized that so many children are in need of this amazing technology. How would we ever choose?
My husband came up with an idea to host an essay contest and after giving it some thought, we truly believe this is the fairest way to approach this situation. So, if you’re a local family, whose special needs child is non-verbal and does not already have an AAC device, this giveaway is for you!
Submit a 250 word essay on how the iPad mini would benefit your non-verbal child and how you plan to use it to support and facilitate their needs. Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, December 23rd. Winner will be chosen by me and announced Tuesday, December 24th. Since this is going to a local Orange County child, arrangements may be made to pick the iPad up on the 24th, so that you can have it in time for Christmas.
Winner will receive:
One (1) iPad Mini
One (1) iPad Mini case
All I ask in return is that you find some small way to pass along a random act of kindness. I don’t expect you to buy an iPad for someone, but often the smallest gestures go the longest way. I am so moved by this man’s generosity, and I promised him that my husband and I would find a way to pay it forward.
On a side note, I so wish I had enough iPads to go around. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that everyone deserves a voice, no matter what form that voice comes in. The world has opened up in amazing ways for my own non-verbal son ever since he got an iPad, and it’s my dream to give other children the same opportunity to develop language and learn in ways that makes sense to them.
Thanks to the incredible generosity of one man, I’m honored to give at least one child a chance at a miracle.