Desiree Andrews is a cheerleader for the Lincoln Middle School in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She’s a sweet, happy, friendly eighth-grader, who also happens to have Down Syndrome.
The young woman has also become something of an international celebrity during the last few weeks.
According to reports, basketball players on the Lincoln team stopped play in order to defend Desiree against some bullies who were mocking her moves from the stands.
“We were mad. We didn’t like that,” said player Miles Rodriguez. The boys confronted the offending individuals and defended the young woman’s honor.
If you’re like me, it’s difficult to contain your anger at the thought of a child being picked on at all, let alone a youngster who is courageously living with a disability.
But Desiree’s response to the cruelty literally put a lump in my throat.
When she saw how upset her father was about the incident, she threw her arms around him and said, “Papa, it’s OK. I still love them even if they don’t love me.”
I believe Desiree is giving us a glimpse of the Lord’s unconditional love. For when He is ignored, scorned, hated and even rejected, God still loves (1 John 4:8).
Are we raising our children to defend the defenseless, to stand-up for the underdog, to protect the vulnerable and befriend the friendless?
I care about Trent and Troy’s academic progress in school, of course. But I’m probably most proud of them when they reach out and stick up for the student who might not be the most popular in class.
The world can be a difficult place and sadly kids can, indeed, be cruel. We can’t control the behavior of the child next door, but we can commit to raising courageous children who will protect and defend others.
Has your child been bullied? Or has your son or daughter had the opportunity to defend a friend? I would love to hear your story in the space below.