Alethea Mshar, a mother and marathon runner, was shopping at Target when she was finally walking back to her car parked in the handicapped spot. She spotted a someone taking a picture of her car parked there – no doubt because of the marathon stickers on it.
She had wanted to stop him to explain her situation and to broaden his perspective – not to judge a book by it’s cover. However, he was already on his way. Although it was too late to talk to him in person, she decided the internet would be her best bet. In an open letter on Facebook, she describes:
“Dear Young Man,
Maybe if this goes far and wide enough you’ll see it, I hope that’s the case.
Awhile back as I was walking out of Target I saw you taking a picture of my van parked in a disabled parking spot. You took off when you saw me coming, I wish you hadn’t, I wish you would have stayed so I could explain.
Yes, my van has running stickers on it, and yes, it’s an ironic picture, seeing my 13.1 and 25k stickers on a vehicle in a disabled spot, I get why you took the picture. The playful side of me actually hopes you and your friends got a few laughs out of the picture.
But I hope you noticed my child when we exited the store. He was sitting in the cart even though he’s far too big. That’s because my child is the person the placard is for. My guess is that the possibility hadn’t even occurred to you. And that’s why I’m writing this.
My son is permanently disabled. He can walk, but not for any distance, and he has many health problems that sometimes prevent walking much at all.
And we aren’t alone or unusual. Maybe my perspective is slanted too because I have dozens of friends whose children have disabilities, and because of how I often struggle to find an open handicapped spot at the children’s hospitals we frequent. I simply want you to understand that children can be disabled and get a parking placard too. And just for the record, I don’t use it unless my son is with me.
I wish we could have chatted for a minute, because I think we would have had a good conversation, and I probably would have broadened my perspective by listening to you as well. Although to be honest my son was in meltdown mode and we probably wouldn’t have been able to make much of the opportunity anyway. So if you happen to see this on the interweb, drop me a note. I’d like to hear from you.”
Her son, Ben, was born with a rare disease called Hirschsprung’s Disease, and in 2009, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia. No doubt a struggle for the Mshar family.
Please SHARE if you agree with this woman’s message! It’s best not to judge people upfront.