Thinking About Eunice Kennedy Shriver
Recently my Aunt J sent me this video called Hand in Hand. It is truly remarkable and I hope you watch it through to the end.
The dancers are Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei . They performed in the CCTV Dance Contest back in 2007. The music was composed by San Bao and the choreographer is Zhao Limin. An interview with Li and Xiaowei tells their story. Below is a portion with some edits for clarity.
Ma Li was a beautiful promising professional ballerina when she lost her right arm in a car accident in 1996. She was only 19. Her handsome boyfriend walked away from her. She tried to kill herself only to be saved by her parents. Her love for her parents gave her the strength to live. She learned how to live her life independently. She learned how to write Chinese beautifully and how to do many things including combing her hair, which she had to cut short from the waist-length to shoulder-length. She learned to cook and to wash clothes ... In a few months she opened her small bookstore.
Five years later in 2001, she was invited to compete at the 5th national special performing art competition for handicaps and won the gold medal. That success gave her the hope to return to her beloved stage. ...
In September 2005, she ran into 21-year-old Zhai Xiaowei. He was being trained to be a cyclist for the national special olympics. He had never danced before. He climbed on a tractor when he was 4 years old and fell off it and lost his left leg.
His dad asked him, "The doctor will have to amputate your leg. Are you afraid?" He couldn't comprehend what would be so different so he said no. His dad said, "You are going to face many challenges and difficulties in life, are you afraid?" He asked, "What are 'challenges and difficulties?' Do they taste good?" His dad laughed with tears, "Yes, they're like your favorite candies. You just need to eat them one piece at a time!" Then his dad ran out of the room in tears.
So he's always very optimistic and athletic with a great sense of humor. He had tried high-jump, long-jump, diving, swimming, and just settled on cycling. His coach believed that he would be able to get 2-3 gold medals in the national special Olympics games. He initially didn't understand how he could "dance," so Li invited him to see her performing "Hand in Hand" with another male actor. He felt that he saw a perfect soul dancing on the stage and agreed to give it a try.
As you can see from the video, these dancers move beautifully and their stories are incredibly inspiring. Watching them, the focus is on the precision and fluidity of their movements and not what is missing.
Part of Xiaowei's training was in the Special Olympics. It made me think of the far reach of the Special Olympics and of Eunice Kennedy Shriver as she remains in critical condition in the hospital.
My brother is an active participant in the Special Olympics. Over the years, he has won countless gold medals for swimming and they mean the world to him. So I just want to say, "thank you" to Eunice Kennedy Shriver. I wish you peace and comfort. Your vision changed the world for the better.
*8/11/09* I just read that Mrs. Shriver died today. Rest in peace.
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