Are you a University of Alabama football fan who may be feeling a bit down in the dumps after Saturday’s Iron Bowl? Before you answer that question, let me introduce you to Jason Sanders of Utica, MS; in a family chock full of LSU fans, Jason absolutely loves his Crimson Tide — he’s been rooting for Bama since he was a tyke (it seems some of his teachers, big Bama fans, had an effect on him).
This past Saturday, Jason was a bundle of nerves. Every time Auburn scored, Jason would drop his head. Every time Bama scored, he would release his pent up energy by rolling around the house and then back in front of the TV before yelling, “Praise the Lord.” And when the final seconds of the game came and went, the teenager with Cerebral Palsy looked at his dad, Dana Sanders, and said, “Well, I guess that’s it … now what’s next?”
You see, for all of his 14 years, Jason Sanders has lived by the words, “What’s next?”
When he needed to adapt to a new wheelchair, he’d say, “What’s next?” When he came out of recent hip surgery, he said, “What’s next?” And when his favorite team lost to Auburn, he said, “What’s next?”
Jason Sanders lives a full life; he hunts with his dad and enjoys time with his parents, Dana and Adrian, along with his brothers, Nathan and David. And when things get tough? Jason simply solves the problem and follows it up with a “What’s next?”
Are you a Bama fan who may be feeling a bit down in the dumps after Saturday’s Iron Bowl? Perhaps you can look to the young man from Mississippi who does not judge, does not hold grudges and holds no ill will toward anyone — a young man who despite his challenges, is a positive ball of energy. Perhaps you can look to the young man who loves Alabama football and gospel music — a young man who will be celebrating his 15th birthday on Tuesday.
We, of course, all wish Jason a happy birthday, and we all move into the work week by asking ourselves not what was, but rather, what’s next? If Jason Sanders can’t motivate us, no one can. Thanks, Jason, for setting us straight. It’s a blessing that we are all learning from you.
Editor’s note: Dana Sanders responded to Rick Karle’s story about Jason, which originally came in a Facebook post:
Dana Sanders wrote, “Rick, you nailed it sir… As Jason’s dad I am supposed to be the example… however I find myself wanting to be more like him. Jason is our gift from the Giver of Gifts. Thank you Lord, Dana Sanders, Jason’s Dad!”