Many times per year for various events, members of Team DOC volunteer their time and talents. One of our favorite places to volunteer is with the kids at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton. We’ve taken part in wheelchair basketball, football and sled hockey games there. We used to play against the students, but they were too good and dominated, so in recent years we learned to mix in. We provide gifts and spread cheer during the holidays and put on big screen movies during the summer months.
One of our favorite events is the Mass Hospital School prom. At age 22, students at the Mass Hospital School graduate and move on from the school to a community setting. The prom is very well attended and is like most proms with a few exceptions. The first thing that strikes you as you walk in, is that there are very few chairs around the nicely decorated tables. Most of the kids at the school use wheel chairs to get around. The next thing you’d notice is the army of volunteers and staff who attend to all of the prom goers needs. Some need help with eating, many can’t swallow very well, so they have special meals that are brought in.
The kids are all excited, they are dressed to the nines and are there to strut their stuff. As they get off of the caravan of buses and vans, they come in and have professional photographers take their photos as they enter the decorated hallways and ballroom of The Lantana in Randolph. They roll in to the ballroom with lists of songs that they’d like to hear and smiles on their faces.
These are your typical young adults, they come as couples or singles. They sit in their cliques and chat each other up, but after dinner the festivities really commence. With all of the physical challenges these kids have in their lives, it does not effect their spirit one bit. They get on the dance floor and move to the best of their ability, whether it’s one hand or simply rocking to the music. The hospital school staff take every opportunity to get the kids up out of their chairs if they’re able so that they can show off their dance moves. They hold couples up so that they can slow dance together. The excitement is contagious.
What is not lost on anyone who attends is that these kids have the same hopes, dreams and aspirations as people without the physical challenges these kids endure on a daily basis. They laugh, cry, love and hope. They enjoy each and every song, but have their favorites. The staff and volunteers have as much fun as the kids. It truly does fill your soul when you see the broad smiles as a couple struggles to find each other’s hand during a slow song, finally grasping each other as they sway to the music. Their sheer determination is inspiring.
Team DOC provides the music, the kids at the Mass Hospital School provide the joy. If you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer there in the past, please take the time to get there for an event, you’ll definitely get more out of it than even the kids do.