How Annie Changed My Life

Who had the largest effect on your life?

Annie’s face is as vivid in my mind now as it was four years ago. I can see the passion for life that sparkled in her eyes and the crazy, intense grin that stretched across her face like a bridge across the sea. Although my experience with Annie may not seem like one of profound importance, I believe that the moments I spent with her were moments that have greatly influenced my life.The day I met Annie is clearly etched in my memory. It was a Wednesday in mid-October and the leaves were just beginning to form a carpet on the ground. I had only been waiting for an hour at the University my mom attended when I saw her sprinting out of the gym.“Cal!” my mom yelled, “Hurry, I need another person.”I ran in after her and stopped when I reached the doors. Every corner of the large room was filled with childlike adults yelping with joy. Laughter echoed off of the walls and smiles were scattered on everyone’s faces. My eyes wandered over to the basketball court where my mom was standing next to a short, stout, and fairly intimidating woman.“This is Annie,” my mom said to me, pointing to the woman next to her, “And Annie, this is my daughter Callie.”“It’s nice to meet you.” I said, holding out my hand.“Yeah, yeah,” said Annie, “let’s play already.”“Don’t take it personally, Cal.” My mom said. “She has Down Syndrome.”And with those words the game began: Annie and my mom against me. They were beating me up and down the court, two forty year-old women, one with a bad knee and one with Down syndrome winning by ten points. But suddenly my mom dropped the ball, literally.“What was that?” yelled Annie.“I’m sorry, Annie I tripped,” explained my mom. But Annie wouldn’t hear it.She pointed a determined finger in my direction and said, “It’s you and me, Cal. Let’s go.”We were a great team, Annie and I. She dribbled, shot and scored while I passed and cheered. She was so amazing that I forgot about her disability and for an hour, all that mattered was basketball. But soon, the game was over and reality once again returned to our world.As I watched Annie’s bus pull out of the parking lot, I thought about her parting words with me; “We did it Cal, we won!” I wondered if she meant that we’d won the game or something else entirely. Was she unaware of her situation, or did she know deep down in her heart that she was different? Did she think that, if only for a moment, she had conquered the confines of reality and slipped into her own utopia?Maybe we’re all like Annie; trying to find happiness in the saddest of times, fighting to win when all odds are against us and celebrating our victories with passion in our eyes, smile on our faces and triumph in our hearts.I haven’t seen Annie since our first meeting, four years ago, but I think about her sometimes. I wonder where she is, how she’s doing and what her life is like now. I think about the trials she’s faced and I thank her, for she helps me remember that on any given day, anyone can transcend the limitations that hold him or hr down and prevail. I remember that on any given day, anyone can face his or her boundaries with a smile and simply walk, or dribble, right through them. I remember that on any given day, anyone can win a game of basketball. In the end, Annie has taught me the most important lesson of all: No matter who we are, where we’re from, or what challenges are set against us, we can persevere, and when we do we can celebrate our victory for the entire world to hear.

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