"U" is for "Underdog"


On the morning that my son needed a letter “U” object for his class show-n-tell, we were determined to find something besides an umbrella. We spotted a stuffed animal on his shelf, and decided how to be original. We practiced the word and then I explained its meaning: “underdog.” It isn’t the cheeriest word, but it sure is an honest one.

As we hurried to the car, my son looked up at me. I will never forget him squinting the sun out of his eyes when he asked, “Mom, do I have a good chance of winning?” In that moment I felt some fear. And then, I felt courage. With the conviction of every loving mother, I said, “You sure do.” Here’s where I stand on underdogs.

Poverty, illness, and even lead poisoning hurt children's chances of meeting developmental milestones. I have seen infants and young children fighting to overcome giant burdens just to attain basic speech, language, and literacy function. This inspired me to strengthen prevention and awareness activities for families, organizations, and individuals. Through prevention and early awareness activities, parents, teachers, and caregivers can help children turn the corner and make real gains.

Life has it’s ups and downs. Anyone can be an underdog at any time. If we become passionate about helping each other, a hand will be there for all of us when it’s our turn to win the good fight. Children live in the same world as adults. And they know when they have to jump a little higher, run a little faster, or try a little harder. It’s okay. That is exactly why they win.

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