Playing sports is good for people of all ages, and not just because it’s beneficial to stay physically active.
For high school student Kristian Shouse, being a part of a team is an accomplishment that she never even dreamed possible. Kristian attends Christian County High School in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and she was born with severe mental handicaps, including autism. When she was young, Kristian’s parents were told she wouldn’t even live past her tenth birthday, but she has continually defied those odds.
Thanks to a close bond with a fellow student, Kristian was able to find out what it feels like to succeed — both on and off the basketball court. It all started when she became friends with a girl named Laderia Gold.
Laderia is a senior who plays on the girls’ basketball team. She’s also a student aide in the Functional Mental Disability unit’s gym class, and she and Kristian became very close over the course of the school year. When Kristian expressed an interest in being a part of the basketball team, Laderia didn’t hesitate to make it happen.
On Friday, February 2, 2018, Laderia invited Kristian to participate in her team’s Senior Night ceremony. Little did anyone know that this kind act would lead to a moment that’s gone on to inspire thousands.
That night, Laderia’s teammates made Kristian an honorary team captain for the night. She put on a number 1 jersey and took to the court as a starting player. After the tip-off, the ball was passed to Laderia, who immediately turned and gently tossed the ball to Kristian.
The entire gymnasium held their breath as she took aim and sent the ball soaring toward the hoop.
Kristian made the shot with ease, and instantly everyone was on their feet, cheering their hearts out.
All of Kristian’s new teammates rushed to congratulate her on her amazing shot. Laderia was the first person by her side to give her a sweet, gentle hug. Can you imagine how incredible this must’ve felt for a girl who’s had very few real victories in her life? Imagine Kristian’s parents, watching their little girl defy the odds in this beautiful way!
Believe it or not, though, the story gets even better.
“Kentucky New Era” reporter Chris Jung happened to be in attendance that night, and he took a video of Kristian’s big moment that he later shared on his Twitter page. Before long, the inspirational video had gone viral; it has now been shared by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, and The Bleacher Report, not to mention viewed by hundreds of thousands of people!
And it all started with a simple act of kindness from a teenage girl.
Well done, Laderia and Kristian! This moment is a wonderful reminder of the power of kindness and empathy. Just doing something nice for another person is sometimes all it takes to change someone’s life!
Watch the video below for your daily dose of inspiration, and don’t forget to share.