On this day before the celebration of Valentine’s Day, we can find plenty of quick, easy, cheap ways to express love. Cash on the counter will bring a passing smile, but real love shines through what we say and do as seen in the following stories.
The first happened nearly half a century ago.
In the week before Thanksgiving, Rozzie Eloise Tilly Usher opened her home to Roger Dean Kiser, 12, who had been locked away in Juvenile Hall for no other reason than that he had no place to go. He had run away from the abuse at the orphanage after first his parents and then his grandparents abandoned him at the age of four.
Kiser never wanted to go back to the orphanage. He only wanted one thing – the security of Juvenile Hall. He did not want to leave even for a Thanksgiving dinner.
Once he understood he could come back, he went home with Usher where he cowered quietly in a corner terrified of everything. Unsure of himself outside of an institution, he sat and watched the crowd of people. Late at night after everyone had left, Usher invited Kiser to sit on the porch. They shared a coke and talked for hours.
The next day, she told him to gather his belongs. As he did so, he overheard her calling the authorities, asking why he was incarcerated. She discovered Kiser had done nothing except run away and they had nowhere else to put him. Kiser heard an enraged Usher say she was not going to bring him back to be locked up like an animal.
In his Youtube video “The Woman Who Saved the Boy Nobody Wanted,” Kiser said, “God knows that I love that woman for saying that! That was the most wonderful thing that anyone ever did for me as a child. That, of all the things in my life, is the one that made me want to become somebody, someday. … I thank you so very much, you loving, kind and wonderful woman.”
That one sentence guided him for the next 45 years.
In his memorial video, Kiser closes, “I hope you know how much you added to the life of one lonely, little boy that nobody else in the world wanted. I love you, Mom.”
Kiser has written several books including, “Orphan: A True Story of Abandonment, Abuse and Redemption.” He also has written several stories for the Chicken Soup series and advocates for children on his website.
In December, another boy received recognition for the love he has shown to his younger brother with his actions the past couple of years. The two, Conner Long, 9, and Cayden, 7, were selected as the Sports Illustrated Kids 2012 SportsKids of the Year.
Conner did not win in any major sporting event, although he has participated in over a dozen kid triathlons. He is not an outstanding athlete, but he is an outstanding brother. In the face of great odds, he determined to make sure his brother Cayden participated in sports.
You see, as a baby, Cayden was diagnosed with hypertonic cerebral palsy. He cannot walk or talk on his own. Just going outside and playing sports seemed to be out of the question for the brothers until Conner saw an ad for a kid triathlon.
He wanted to participate, and he wanted to participate with Cayden. At first his parents tried to gently dissuade Conner. It seemed impossible, but he insisted. They found a way and prepared for the event.
During the 110-yard swim Conner pulled Cayden in a rubber raft. When he biked the three miles, Conner pulled his brother in a cart. When he ran the half mile, he pushed Cayden’s cart.
They did not win, but they finished. That’s all that matters because they were outside having fun together at the races and during their practices.
In the past couple of years, the brothers have participated in more than a dozen fun runs and kid triathlons. Sometimes they come in last, but they have fun and inspire others. Their Facebook page encourages others, especially parents of special needs kids.
Ultimately Conner dreams of someday taking Cayden on the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. A big ambition for such a young boy, but his determination may get them there. After all, that determination with love motivated one brother to persist and do what he could in the face of great odds.