Image via WikipediaA lot of times, when I watch the news, there is no real connection to a story being coverage. I might sympathize briefly or have a thought about a story, but soon I don't give it another thought. Then there are stories that I connect with on a more emotional level, even though I may have a personal relationship with the subject matter.
I tend to really connect with stories about kids. Stories about special needs kids, especially kids with autism tend to get the most emotional responses from me. It brings a tear to my eye when I hear stories about the girl with Downs Syndrome who gets named homecoming queen or the autistic boy who finally gets to play a few minutes in a high school basketball game and lights up the scoreboard.
I get a different kind of tear in my eyes when I hear stories about bad things happen to kids, especially to kids with special needs. I grieve for the parents and loved ones of that child. Whenever anybody harms any child, I have a visceral, angry reaction. There is no such thing as cruel and unusual punishment for anyone that hurts a child.
For most of the past week, my local news has been following a story that has ultimately triggered both sets of emotions. Robbie Wood, a young boy with autism, wandered away from his father while on a hike at North Anna Battlefield Park. As the father of an autistic boy, I know how panicked we have gotten when our son wandered away from us in a shopping mall and been out of our sight for even a few moments.
Over the next six days, the news reported on the number of volunteers who would meet each day at Kings Dominion to search for the missing boy. Over 6000 volunteers participated in the search. As every day passed and Robbie was not found, I was slowly starting to fear the worst. Finally, yesterday, they found him lying near a creek, cold, wet, and shivering but in good shape.
Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. Robbie was taken to the hospital and given fluids, warmed up, and reunited with his family. Worry and fear have passed and given over to relief and happiness. Would that all such stories could turn out this way.