Don’t Ever Give Up

Don’t Ever Give Up

From Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating People Who Make a Difference

Don’t Ever Give Up

For nothing will be impossible with God.

Luke 1:37

Sam Hensen was celebrating his ninth birthday at summer camp. The counselors and other kids threw him a party with cake and gifts his parents had sent along.

He wasn’t a popular boy and didn’t have many friends. On his eighth birthday, only one little boy showed up for his party. None of the parents allowed their children to go to Sam’s party, because they were afraid he would scare their children.

Sam was mentally disabled. He couldn’t speak or walk like other children. He was shunned by both kids and parents alike. But his ninth birthday party was different. At camp, he saw there were people who cared about him. One boy, in particular, befriended Sam. His name was Bobby. Bobby was eleven, and though he wasn’t mentally challenged, he had a younger brother who was. Sam reminded Bobby of his brother, and they developed a friendship unlike any other.

Bobby came to Sam’s cabin every morning to help him get ready for his daily exercises and get to breakfast on time. He also helped him in sports. Sam loved baseball, and Bobby took on the challenge of trying to teach Sam to bat. They worked for hours and days, but it seemed nearly impossible that Sam would ever hit the ball. The counselors tried to teach Sam, too, but it seemed hopeless.

One night, while reading the Bible, Bobby thought of Sam and said a little prayer for him. After praying, he went over to Sam’s cabin and woke him up. “C’mon Sam! Wake up! Let’s go try to hit the ball!”

Sam opened his eyes. What was Bobby doing, waking him up in the middle of the night? Bobby pulled him out of bed. “It will only take a moment and we’ll be right back.”

Bobby and Sam sneaked by their counselors and went out to a lighted parking lot. Bobby got the bat and ball and helped Sam get into position to bat. Through sleepy eyes, Sam tried to focus on the ball. He swung several times but still couldn’t hit it.

Bobby still didn’t give up. He told Sam, “I’ll pitch one more and I know you’re going to hit this one.”

Bobby pitched the ball, and for the first time ever, the ball went sailing by his head! Sam had finally hit it! They began to jump and yell excitedly.

A voice came through the parking lot, “What are you boys doing?” It was their counselor, Chris. They told Chris what had happened, and a smile crossed his face. He said, “You two could be in real trouble for sneaking out of the cabin, but I’ll let this one slide. I know you have helped each other and worked hard together and I’m proud of you.”

Chris put his arm around Sam and told him, “I knew you’d hit the ball one day. Aren’t you glad Bobby didn’t give up on you!” Sam nodded his head, yes, and all three guys headed back to the cabins arm in arm.

Sam fell asleep that night with a smile of accomplishment on his face. Bobby learned to always have faith, even in the midst of impossible circumstances. He went on to play baseball in college and was elected to his school’s Hall of Fame.

Sam said, “Every time I go see Bobby play baseball, if he ever strikes out or gets mad at himself, I stand up and yell, ‘Don’t you dare give up!’”

Years later, Sam was asked to throw out the ceremonial ball at a professional baseball game, and he eventually returned to teach baseball at the old summer camp during their Special Olympics.

Scot Thurman

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