“As one person, I cannot change the world. But I can change the world of one person.” – Paul Shane Spear
My daughter Amelia is a gymnast, and about a year ago, she started coaching a little girl named Faith. At the time, Faith was a 6-year-old first-grader at Light of the World Academy in Pinckney (where my wife is the school director), and more than anything, little Faith wanted to do gymnastics like the other girls on the playground.
The only problem was, she didn’t know how. Faith has a very rare and painful stomach disease called hypoganglionosis – an illness that keeps her in the hospital much of the time. Because of her condition, Faith was never able to take gymnastics classes, so she didn’t know how to do so much as a simple cartwheel. So while the other girls on the playground would flip and tumble across the grass, Faith would just stand by and watch.
Amelia began to take notice of this, so one day, she walked up to Faith and said, “I see you watching all the other girls. Would you like me to teach you some gymnastics?”
And that’s how it started.
So once a week – on Friday afternoons, the only day that Amelia didn’t have practice herself – the 15-year-old high school sophomore would teach the 6-year-old first-grader how to do gymnastics. They set up a tiny gym at Light of the World Academy – a small mat, a little balance beam and a mini trampoline – and Amelia would teach Faith how to do cartwheels and backbends and everything else.
Before long, Faith was out on the playground like the other kids, doing all the same gymnastics things that they were doing. Her relationship with Amelia was starting to change Faith’s life.
As they started to grow closer, I put a picture on Facebook of Faith and Amelia doing gymnastics. My friend Tim Robinson saw it – he’s the sports editor of the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus – and he thought that it would make a neat little story for the newspaper. So he wrote a wonderful feature that ran on Christmas Day, and the story ended up winning a Michigan Press Association award.
Tim’s story led to more attention from the media. When Amelia brought Faith to her gym in Ann Arbor (Gym America), the girls fell in love with the little girl, and they were so touched that they decided to raise money to buy Faith her own gymnastics equipment. The fundraiser they put on was covered by several media outlets, including AnnArbor.com and Fox 2.
I had thought the tale of Faith and Amelia was just a cute little story, but after seeing the reaction to Tim’s article – as well as the other stories – I could tell that people were really being moved and inspired by it all – more than I ever could have imagined. They couldn’t get enough of little Faith.
Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this today. Faith’s story is about to get a whole lot bigger.
Next week, Faith and Amelia are going to be featured in a national magazine, Woman’s World (which has a circulation of about 1.3 million). A reporter from the magazine saw the story online, and thought it would be a natural for their magazine. So she did the interviews and sent a photographer out, and on Oct. 31, it’s going to be on newsstands across the country.
And the biggest news of all is that the story of Faith and Amelia is going to be told in a documentary, called “A Little Faith.”
My friend Brian Kruger and I produce documentaries through his Emmy-nominated company, Stunt3 Multimedia, so I wrote the script for it and he directed and edited it. We did the filming back in September and early October, and now, it’s ready for the premiere.
I’m obviously proud of my daughter and her gymnast friends – and it’s a strange thing writing a film about your own child – but above all that, I think the message of “A Little Faith” is something much, much bigger. The message – as you’ll see in the film – is just what it says in that quote at the top of this column: As one person, you might not be able to change the world. But you can change the world of one person.
As you’ll see, Faith’s world has indeed been changed.
If you’re in the mood for a little inspiration from a 6-year-old little girl, you can pick up a copy of Woman’s World next week to see the story.
Or better yet, you can show up at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Ypsilanti High School. That’s when the premiere of “A Little Faith” takes place. If you have kids, you should bring them. If you have parents, you should bring them. If you know anyone who could use a good cry – and I’m talking a good cry, not a bad cry – you should bring them. The film has a feel-good ending that will leave you smiling from now until next spring.
Like everyone else who has met her, you’re going to fall in love with “A Little Faith.”
I guarantee it.
The premiere of “A Little Faith” takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9 at Ypsilanti High School, 2095 Packard Road. Tickets are $10, with proceeds going to the Faith Falzon Medical Fund. Tickets are available at Light of the World Academy and Shalom Lutheran Church in Pinckney (1740 E. M-36) and at Gym America in Ann Arbor (4611 Platt Road). You can also reserve tickets by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Just leave your name and how many tickets you’d like.