Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Encouragement

Our own Sgt. Hodge and the 133rd MPC prove to a child that anything is possible.

May Kionndhay never give up on his dream!

Florence Guard unit helps child become soldier for a day
By BOBBY TEDDER
Morning News


FLORENCE -- When a bright-eyed Kionndhay Hawkins of Lamar told his teacher that he was going to realize his dream of joining the Army last week, she innocently dismissed it as perhaps the by-product of an overzealous imagination.

For her and everyone else, seeing was believing as the 8-year-old’s declaration came to fruition Sunday.

Beset by mental disorders threatening to mar his future, Hawkins stepped lively in his military duds with and courtesy of adoptive Florence-based Army National Guard’s 133rd Military Police Company unit. Subtly peripatetic and outwardly giddy with excitement, the pint-sized soldier for a day easily shot past Cloud 9 way before then.

“He has always wanted to be a soldier, ever since he was little,” said mother Temika Hawkins, looking on as the oldest of her four children was being accoutered by his adoptive military elders at the National Guard Armory on South Greer Road.

And there he was, looking every bit the part in custom-made fatigues complete with dangling gold-plated medal, private’s cap and tiny, shiny combat boots.

Observers have labeled the youngster - diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, and Developmental Delay - somewhat of a longshot to qualify as a U.S. serviceman.
Luckily enough, the boy’s youth appears to have him from such notions, allowing for the nurturing of a preoccupation that relatives attribute to the Hawkins pedigree.

He has grown up idolizing and emulating veterans maternal grandfather Earl and great uncle James, the latter a member of the 133rd and whom he sees dressed in uniform on drill weekends like this.

Kionndhay has even expressed interest in Iraq and Kuwait, a symptom of listening to his great uncle recount war stories and other exploits there.

“The boy asks a lot of questions about the military ... that’s kind of unusual for a child that age,” said Earl, whose own military career entails stints in the National Guard and tours of duty in Vietnam and Cambodia as a U.S. Marine.

The tireless honorary soldier squeezed a lot of activity into this “his” day, including eating lunch in the mess hall with other MPs, going for a ride around the block in a MP Humvee and barking, although puppylike, out movement orders to fellow soldiers.

For Thomas Blakemore, staff sergeant of the 133rd, watching the youngster frolic around in his desired element was personally enlightening.

“It’s something that we take for granted everyday,” Blakemore explained. “Then, you see a little kid light up like this and it just brings our jobs and why we’re here back into perspective.”
The idea was conceived by Temika Hawkins a couple months ago as a labor of love for Kionndhay, a patient of McCleod Hospital neuro-developmental pediatricians, and carried out by officials at McCleod Children’s Hospital, the McCleod Foundation and the 133rd.

“Everybody’s telling me that with him being the way he is, he may not be able to go into the Army,” Temika recalled, “so I called (McCleod) and asked them, ‘My son’s situation is like this ... can you help me?’”

That cold call was ultimately forwarded to Claudette Jones from the children’s hospital, who through research and initiative, made the right contacts and got the ball rolling.

“The thing about it is, I had not met the family until today,” Jones said. “Yet, I feel like I’ve known her and Kionndhay just from the phone conversations we’ve had while putting this thing together for him.”

Characterized as a lovable cut-up, special education teacher Melanie Carpenter really had no idea what Kionndhay meant when he announced that he was going to the Army a week ago.

“I just waved him off saying, ‘No you’re not.’ He said, ‘Really, I am,’” Carpenter said of the boy, who’s got a “great sense of humor and just an awesome personality - there’s nobody like him.”

Generally, an ADHD child is unable to concentrate, constantly moves around and has poor school performance compared with intelligence.

Their behavior at home and school is disruptive, according to AdhdNews.com.

According to a University of Michigan Health System report, a Developmental Delay child does not reach his or her developmental milestones at the expected times. It is an ongoing, major delay in the process of development, i.e. motor, language, social or thinking skills.

As for Kionndhay’s cognitive conditions curtailing his goal to enlist in the armed forces being a dream deferred, Earl Hawkins warns not to count him out.

“They say he can’t because of his disabilities, but I’ll never say he can’t,” Earl said. “All that’s in God’s hands ... especially with a kid like that, with all of that desire inside of him.”






Sgt. Hodge & the 133rd MPC Posted by Hello

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