Wow! This was a wonderful, wonderful surprise, and I will tell you honestly that being selected to receive the Dolly Gray Award is an honor I will always hold close in my heart. It means very much to me. Thank you.
My first friend in this wide world was my neighbor, Brent. He is one year older than me and has PKU. Our friendship has abided for fifty-one years so far. We learn so much from our earliest friendships, don’t we? I think, perhaps, the most abiding lessons and truths we carry with us through our lifetimes come from these early relationships. This certainly has been the case for me.
One of the truths I learned through my friendship with Brent, learned from spending time with his family, is that all human beings struggle with the same issues, the same drives, the same needs—perhaps at different times of their lives, perhaps to different degrees, and certainly with different outcomes, but the struggles are the same. All of us, no matter our gender, no matter our age, no matter the physical or mental challenges we face, experience tension between the love we feel for our friends and family and the sense of responsibility we feel toward them. We experience competing desires to remain and to leave. All of us feel compelled to hold on to what we know, to stay with what is safe and familiar to us, and also to stretch further into the world, to explore, to discover something new, to claim our freedom.
For all of us in the real world, these things are true, and for the fictional characters of A Small White Scar, it is the same. In the end, the struggles Denny and Will experienced in the book had not so much to do with Denny’s Down syndrome or its impact on his family, but more to do with the very human hearts of Will and Denny.
Thank you for embracing the fundamental humanity of both these characters and for recognizing this first novel of mine with such an important and prestigious award. I am so honored today to accept the Dolly Gray Award for Children’s Literature in Developmental Disabilities. Thank you.