A few years ago, I was sent a link to a video that made me smile. The video was about a man named Tim Harris.
Tim Harris is a restaurant owner. He is a college graduate, a dynamic speaker, and an all-around likable dude. His restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and hugs. Lots of hugs. Tens of thousands of hugs.
He also happens to have Downs’ Syndrome.
Since then, I have used this video in lots of presentations and workshops when I want to illustrate the impact of “presuming competence” in all students, and how limiting our expectations for our students because of a perceived disability in them short-changes them in school and in life.
I kept telling myself that someday I would love to meet Tim Harris in person.
Thanks to OCALICON 2015, I got my chance. Tim was the Thursday keynote speaker. I got to the conference a little later than usual that day, because I took the opportunity to drop off my son at school before driving to Columbus, but I got there in time to hear Tim’s whole presentation. From the back row.
After his enthusiastic, heart-warming address, the crowd was asked if they had any questions for Tim. I shot up from my seat and walked through the darkened aisleway toward a microphone. Someone else was first, and I can’t even remember what they asked. I was second. I had so many questions in my head from the many times I had watched the video, so many things I would have wanted to know more about his experiences and his motivations. But, if I could just ask one question, I knew exactly what that question had to be.
“Tim, my name is Michael. And my question is, ‘Can I have a hug?'”
Tim answered with his trademark, “Oh yeah!”
I headed straight for the stage and got my hug! The hug even came with an “I love you, man!” I don’t know anyone else who can say they have hugged someone who has hugged a US President, and a First Lady. But I have!
Sometimes, it just takes twenty seconds of insane courage. I’ll never forget the day I met one of my idols, Tim Harris.