Last summer I was involved with the startup of a new non-contact boxing program for kids titled First Punch. This program includes all kids especially those with challenges. Leif is one extraordinary kid who has made an impact on my life through this program.
At the start of the 2016- 2017 school year, I didn't know it would be my last as a school guidance counselor. Retirement came early for me due to my Parkinson’s Disease. For that entire year each morning, Monday through Friday, my routine was the same - bus duty at the start of each school day. Every morning before I dismissed the buses, I was to specifically help one little boy get safely off the bus. He was a petite ginger kindergartner who never looked me in the eye as I greeted him each morning. His eyes were ever so busy taking in everything around him, everything except for his feet trying to navigate the oversized steps of that bus.
I thought he didn't know my name. I thought he wouldn't recognize me in a crowd, but I was wrong. As I made sure Leif got off that bus safely each day of my last year, even though his eyes never met mine, he was noticing and remembering everything around him like a sponge.
When he came to the First Punch informational meeting with his mom this past summer, the first thing he said when he walked in the room was "Hey, Mrs. Cox, why did you retire?" That's the moment I fell in love with Leif.
If you knew of Leif's physical struggles his first few years of his life, you would be amazed at his pure love of life. Being around Leif makes me take my life less seriously and want to enjoy each moment like he does. Don't get me wrong. Leif can be a challenge, but a challenge well worth the time and investment you take to get to know him.
Spending time with Leif reminds me to look beyond the the surface, take time to get to know people, and relish the details of life the way he does. Leif has taught me that even though someone may not be making eye contact with me, do not dismiss that person. People take in the world in different ways.
When l made this video of Leif, he asked his mom when would it be in the theaters and could they go see it. So here is a crowd favorite at First Punch. Kickback, get some popcorn, turn off the lights and watch the movie about Leif. I guarantee Leif will Make America Smile today!