Kyle and Travis

  • Aug. 27, 2014
  • #8433

Listen to Joni share how ‘Talent Night’ at Family Retreat gives special-needs kids a chance to shine.

Kyle and Travis

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a heartwarming story.

And it’s true; many of the most touching stories I think I share are from our Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats. We are just finishing up the last of our 25 summer retreats for special-needs families here in the US. Every year, our camps serve thousands of disabled children, adults, their family members, and volunteers. And each Family Retreat is filled with heartwarming moments, like at Talent Night. Now when I say talent, I use that term loosely, most of the young people with disabilities who get up on that stage can hardly speak; some cannot walk; many have Down syndrome; others use crutches or wheelchairs. But that doesn’t matter – it’s their chance to shine. And oh, my goodness, do they shine!

Like little Kyle and his brother, Travis. Now Kyle has cerebral palsy – he’s a cute guy even though he cannot use his arms or legs and he is in a wheelchair. Kyle is blessed though with a fantastic smile and a very expressive face, but he cannot speak. He is, as they say, non-verbal. But you can see so much in Kyle’s eyes and his smile. And one of the first things you see is how much he loves Travis. As Kyle’s older brother, Travis has an obvious affection for his kid brother. Like many siblings of disabled kids, Travis is protective of Kyle and he wants to show the world that his little brother is, as they say, a typical kid despite his cerebral palsy.

So it did not surprise me at all that Travis dreamed up and duo-act that showcased his brother. Of course, on Talent Night when they wheeled up front, I’m thinking to myself, 'This should be interesting; I mean, what are the two of them actually going to do? Kyle can’t get up, walk or talk or sing or gesture, so… What will it be?’

Well, this is what they did. You see, Travis plays a trombone and, in fact, he carried it when he pushed Kyle’s wheelchair on stage. So Travis locked the wheelchair and then wrapped his little brother’s hands around the slide of the trombone. You can see Kyle was gripping it as hard as he could, then his big brother stepped back, put the trombone up to his lips and began playing. But here’s the thing—because Kyle was holding the slide, Travis was the one who had to quickly step forward or backward to change the length of the slide and thereby play different notes. You get the picture? It was two kids playing one instrument: In order to make music, one brother lunged in and out against the trombone, while the other held fast to the slide. And I tell you, that was the first – the very first time – I had ever cried watching someone (actually, two someones) play a trombone. And by the time their rendition of the hymn “How Great Thou Art” was completed the entire Family Retreat audience jumped up on their feet, cheering and clapping. It was such a touching picture of these two young men and their love for each other – and Kyle just could not stop flailing his arms and legs, smiling and squealing, he was so excited.

The Bible says “Oh, sing a new song to the Lord!” And although ‘How Great Thou Art’ was not new, the way it was played sure was.  I would love for you to learn more about our Family Retreats, so please, take a minute and click on our radio page at where you’ll see a great video about our International Family Retreats. And who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire you and you’ll consider volunteering with us next summer!  But bring your Kleenex because Talent Night is where the spotlight is on the Lord and his love for kids with disabilities.

image descriptionDownload on iTunes 

© Joni and Friends


Have You Been Encouraged?

  • Your email address will not be published with your comment or be displayed anywhere on our website.
  • We do not rent or sell your personal information to other companies or individuals.
  • For more information please see our privacy policy.