Inspiring Stories – Jason “J-Mac” McElwain

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog?

Happy Spring! Calendar wise it started yesterday, has it started weatherwise where you are yet?

Did you get a chance to touch base with that teen or young adult in your life last week? Take some time this week and talk about what they like to read. If they happen to mention one that interests them, suggest going to the bookstore with them and picking one out.

Hey teens and young adults! Ideas are always needed and welcomed for those adults in your life who may want to pick up something for you.

March’s Theme – National Reading Month

National Reading Month is an author’s dream come true. Throughout the month of March, teens across America will be doing a lot more reading with activities that will take place throughout the month to promote reading. This month we also try to close the learning gap by promoting reading, the cornerstone to learning.

This month, I am centering this theme on my blogs and mentor page. Check out my mentor page and see how I am focusing on it Selma P. Verde – Mentor Page

Another fun thing I am doing to celebrate National Reading Month is to track the number of pages I read this month. So far, I am at 1389 (through last night).

What makes a person or story inspiring?

I call these posts Inspiring Stories. What makes a story inspiring? I think a story is inspiring when it is about something that a person doesn’t normally do and it gives the reader an idea that maybe it is something they could do. Or it is the story about their journey to get to that remarkable event or to something that changes their life.

Inspiring People can also have an additional challenge to overcome to do that inspiring thing. We are inspired by people who do great things. It is even a step better when they do things no one thought they could do. That is the story of the person I am writing about this week, Jason “J-Mac” McElwain.

Memoirs are stories about people

Memoirs are stories about a person and are a great way to learn about their life journey. How did I find out about him? From a little internet search I did for autism awareness week last year. I ordered his memoir, The Game of My Life: A True Story of Challenge, Triumph, and Growing Up Autistic by Jason “J-Mac” McElwain with the intention of featuring it last April (Autism Awareness Month). Unfortunately, it did not arrive in time for me to read and feature it, so when I came across it a few weeks ago, it made it to the top of my TBR list for National Reading Month.

What is autism?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

Jason was diagnosed with severe autism as a child and could only function at a moderate level. He worked past it as he grew older and became higher functioning with the disease.

His love of basketball

He had always been into basketball. He had played a lot with his brother Josh growing up and he followed the scores and players on TV. He was always attending summer camps and trying to make the team, but when he did the tryout, he always seemed to come up a little short.

In the book, J-Mac mentions that Michael Jordan, who ultimately becomes a famous guard for the Chicago Bulls, was cut from his high school team the first time he tried out. But he kept trying and made it. That became inspiration for J-Mac to keep trying after he was cut from his middle school team.

Even though he didn’t make the team in high school, the coaches invited him to be the team manager. This opportunity allowed him to play a role in his passion for the sport. He was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the team.

The biggest game of his life

Jason has QUITE the story to tell about how his life completely changed after scoring 20 points in just a few short minutes when he was given the chance to play during one of his high school basketball games. He was given an opportunity to play in a game he had only watched from the sidelines.

The fact that the coach wanted him to play in the senior game was a great showing to J-Mac. The opportunity was not only special for him and his family, but it also impacted the school, his friends and the world.

His story is nothing short of inspiring.

Why is he inspiring to us?

Jason was able to do what he did in spite of the fact that he has autism. He had been the team manager all season and the coach gives him the chance to play in the final game. He made the most of that chance and did something remarkable. That is what makes him inspiring to me.

I learned more about Jason McElwain by reading his memoir and it is where this quote comes from.

“It’s important for you all to know that I’m not a hero here. I’m nineteen. I’m also autistic. My teachers, the other special education kids and especially my family are the real heroes. Because of them, I dared to dream.”

– Jason McElwain in The Game of My Life

Here is a link to the video of the ESPN news story after the game – The Game of His life

If you want to learn more about J-Mac’s story, here is a link to it on Amazon – The Game of My Life. Or you can pick it up from one of your local bookstores or shop and have the purchase credited to them.

What stories have you found to be inspiring? Let me know what the story was and how it inspired you in the comments below.

Looking for YA reads?

Both of the books in my series, The Way Series, focus on high school and the challenges teens can face. Book one, The Hard Way, focuses on peer pressure and making choices with the approval of peers being a factor. Book two, Shawn’s Way, shows a freshman in high school navigating his way through being the target of a bully. Check out the books tab of my website for more information and how to purchase your own copies, Selma P. Verde – Books

Have a great week!

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