Ohio Valley FFA Officers for 2016-17 named ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley West Union holds football Homecoming festivities First graders pick the Sheriff Cross honored by ODNR with the prestigious Cardinal Award Renowned Ohio artist visits WUHS Don and Venita Bowles named 2016 Outstanding Fair Supporters PES students part of new Lego League Ferno donates $2,500 to OVCTC From the cistern to the city water Basketball officiating class being offered in October Peebles rolls by West Union in straight sets Par for the course, Dragons sweep SHAC Golf titles Greyhounds hang on late for first win of 2016 season You have to understand the process to understand the job Alex K Miller Ann E Campbell Scott N Atkinson Senior Profile: Tyler Fowler Martin named to All-Tourney Team in North/South Battlefield Classic 200 years on the banks of the Ohio, in a little town called Moscow Edwin P Prince ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley Volleyball teams honor young cancer patient MHS honors veterans during pregame Kirker Covered Bridge gets a ‘Brown Goose’ facelift Adams County Heritage Days are Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Lady Devils prevail 1-0 over Peebles on Kickin’ Cancer Night Senior Profile: Patrick Baldwin Michael W Milby James R Grooms Sr. Fall Festival crowns Little Miss and Mister UPDATE: Pike County multiple murder Investigation; redacted autopsy reports released West Union Elementary names August Students of the Month SHAC streak continues for North Adams volleyball West Union volleyball picks up a pair of W’s Animal Shelter booth sees record crowds at Old Timer’s Day Festival Dragons top Manchester in Defender Bowl battle, 28-22 Senior Profile: Kendall Gallowitz Lady Dragons grab early lead in SHAC Tourney, final round is coming Friday Another Old Timer’s Days in the books and successful Run Gio Foundation to hold Oct. 1 benefit in Adams County Betty L Kelley Tom Cross, ACTVB Director, to receive ODNR Cardinal Award Seaman Fall Festival begins Wednesday, runs through Saturday Dragons still lead after two rounds of SHAC Golf, McCarty tops individual leader board Lady Dragons get SHAC win, downing Fayetteville 3-1 Overcoming obstacles, Pennywitt etches his name in MHS record books Dragons take first day lead in SHAC Golf Tourney New drug treatment offers more hope for recovering addicts Ronnie G Nace Lucille Wright Lois M Bixler Time to change those soccer rules Senior Profile: Hannah Grimes ‘Cruising up and down the main drag all night long’ Community effort erects town clock S Bridge to be replaced on Graces Run Road Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Lady Dragons break ACCC course record Dragons roll in county gridiron battle Down to last play, Hounds fall in heartbreaker I never won, but those lawn games were special times Donnie Austin Shari R Hiltibran Bentonville hosts 40th Annual Harvest Festival West Union soccer teams sweep Williamsburg, St. Patrick “Rockin” the mats again Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Sylvester Mefford Local teens selected to State 4-H Teen Leadership Council Connect with Serpent Mound over Old Timer’s Days Guthrie to speak about pests and diseases in beekeeping Old Timers Days Festival Cornhole Tournament is this week Defender Bowl coming Thursday Bentonville Harvest Festival holds Toddler Pageants 40th Anniversary Bentonville Harvest Festival hosts Baby Show 9/11 Reminds Us That We Are All Americans Lady Dragons are 2016 County Cup winners Bob Birchfield Senior Profile: Ryan Henderson Dragons take JV golf match Another rough night for Greyhounds, Notre Dame rolls to big win Remembering 9/11-15 years later Hughes honored at GABP Concussions and Youth Sports Roberta Newman to retire after more than 46 years at First State Bank Reaching out to the Baton Rouge flood victims Bentonville Harvest Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary Fire it up! Annual Jr. Fair BBQ cooks up another savory fare Lady Indians take down Whiteoak in four sets Senior Profile: Zack Best Greyhounds produce three winners at the 2016 Dragon Run Lady Hounds win in five sets at West Union Teresa Houdeshell Rosa Grooms Roy C Shiveley Mathew R Potts Staggs and Louiso to visit nation’s capital MLSD board members disagree on the merits of drug-testing students
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Their walk to remember

My daughter Julia had childhood apraxia until she was about five years old, which made it very difficult for her to form sounds and syllables correctly in order to speak so that she could be understood. She was very intelligent and knew exactly what she wanted to say, but her speech disorder would not allow her to do so. This eventually led to tantrums and crying fits because she would get so frustrated that nobody understood her. She went to speech therapy, a special preschool class, and learned sign language to try to bridge the communication gap, but still, my little brown eyed girl often had tear-filled eyes.

During this same time, one of our dear family friends suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. She was at the stage where she understood what you were talking about and could answer yes or no questions, but had much difficulty trying to verbally communicate beyond that. One warm summer day, I found myself with some free time with just Julia, so we decided to go pick up our friend and go for a walk around the path in our home town. Our path is just over a mile long, so I figured I could push Julia in the stroller and it wouldn’t take us too long to get around it.

We started off with our friend walking beside me and Julia swinging her chubby little legs from the seat of the stroller. Several minutes later, Julia reached up and grabbed our friend’s hand. I immediately saw her face brighten, and her expression change. The touch of my child’s hand was comfort to her soul. Julia turned and motioned to me that she wanted to get down out of the stroller. She had just turned three years old at the time, and I just knew her little legs would get tired, but I got her out and let her walk.

It took us an hour and a half to walk ¾ of a mile, but the view was spectacular. They were two peas in a pod. They walked hand in hand, but stopped every few steps to admire each pretty rock, to rescue every stray worm off the hot blacktop, to look at their reflections in every puddle, to chase every butterfly, to pick every flower. Neither one could verbally speak very well, but they spoke volumes to one another. They understood each other perfectly. They followed each other’s hand gestures as they pointed to fuzzy caterpillars, chalk drawings, and baby frogs. They watched each other’s sparkling eyes to communicate their delight at finding each new treasure. They saw happiness there. Patience. Contentment.

I’m certain they forgot I was even behind them, but as I watched this unfold in front of me, my heart smiled. Our friend had given my daughter something I couldn’t, understanding. She knew exactly what it was like to have great thoughts and ideas and not be able to express them. Each understood the frustration that the other was feeling when the world didn’t understand. Each gave the other permission to take as long as they needed to get the point across. Each laughed in the same language-pure, innocent, love-filled laughter that I wished I could put in my shirt pocket to pull out on days when I was sad or unsure of myself.

Such great teachers! To do an act as simple as to look into someone’s eyes when they are speaking lets them know that what they are saying is important. To give them time that is just theirs confirms that their thoughts and ideas are worth listening to. To give them time to express it in their own way, even if it feels long and labored, is a gift. In that moment, you see them for who they are and see past the labels the world may have put on them. In that moment, they are themselves. Not a child with a speech impediment. Not an adult with a debilitating disease. Not a teenager who feels misunderstood. Not an elderly person who cannot remember the words they are looking for. Not a frazzled, sleep-deprived parent. Not someone who is battling depression. For that moment, you have given them validation that what they are saying is important enough to exchange a few moments of your life to hear what they have to say. You might be the only person who gave them such an important gift that day.

Friends, may you find God’s blessings all around you this week. May you not be rushed. May you recognize God’s treasures in the form of funny-shaped clouds and colors of the sunset. May you be on both the giving and receiving ends of feeling important to another person. Those are the things that make life worth living. Live it well.

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Denae Jones

Contributing Columnist

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2016 People's Defender