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Making a difference. June 19, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Our friend Ben has written in the past about two boys with autism, Kambel and Kantai Smith, and their heroic father, Lonnie Smith, who discovered his sons’ talents and enabled them to create a superhero, Survivor, online. Survivor battles the League of Diseases and his archenemy, Cheeo, whose chief weapon is depression, in a series of animated features, “Survivor Evolution.”

Their website is called The Inspire Weekly (http://theinspireweekly.com/). If you suffer from autism or Asperger’s (high-functioning autism), if your kids do, if you know anyone who does, I urge you to discover this wonderful site, and wonderful story, for yourselves. (Our earlier posts on the topic are “Autism rocks” and “Autism STILL rocks,” which you can check out by typing their titles or simply typing “autism” in our search bar at upper right.)

Today, I’d like to highlight another blog that’s making a difference. It’s called “Laughing at My Nightmare,” and is written by Shane Burcaw, a 21-year-old who suffers from a rare and particularly disabling form of muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, which has confined him to a wheelchair since age 2. Shane’s blog has burgeoned into a non-profit organization, Laughing at My Nightmare, Inc., whose mission is “to promote positivity and fund muscular dystrophy research” through events like walks and runs. Read more at http://www.laughingatmynightmare.com.

Frankly, people like the Smiths and Shane Burcaw put the rest of us to shame. While we’re whining about eating a bad dinner or having to wait ten minutes in a grocery line or an annoying coworker, they’re using their creativity to overcome unspeakable odds and changing our world for the better. Maybe it’s time we listened up.


1. Deb - June 20, 2013

I need to get back here more. Great post.

Thanks, Deb! What a lovely thing to say, and ditto.

2. Lonnie Smith - June 27, 2013

Thanks for the recognition. Kambel and Kantai are doing great, they enjoy developing the animations. Kantai just graduated high school and now we will all work towards their Associate Degrees in Media Arts. Its been a really rough ride, but I enjoy their enthusiasm as we fight Cheeo in our own lives. A new video will be released in the next week featuring Cheeo. I hope your readers will support the Survivor Evolution Series by subscribing to our YouTube channel. Thanks again. http://www.youtube.com/user/KNSnetwork


Hi Lonnie, I’m so thrilled to hear from you and hear how well all of you are doing! This is REALLY great news. Where will Kambel and Kantai pursue their Associate’s Degrees in media arts? I am so delighted for all of you! Since not everyone follows comments, I’ll make this the topic of my next post so everyone has the link to your YouTube channel. As I think I’ve said before, my niece and nephew both fall on the autism spectrum, with one facing greater social struggles than the other, and I’ve seen my brother and sister-in-law giving all their strength and all their faith towards making sure the kids (both also very bright and gifted, like yours) could have a fulfilling future. It’s an honor to be able to post about your family and what you’ve all accomplished. I hope and pray that you’re doing well in terms of your own physical health. Please let me know. And thank you for being who you are.

3. Lonnie Smith - June 28, 2013

Hi, thanks for responding so quickly. Once again your kind words inspire us to keep going. My health has been pretty good, mostly because my strength comes from watching those two guys grow. They have pushed me beyond my own expectations of myself because I need to keep up with them. Like your niece and nephew, the boys also struggle socially, and It seems that academics don’t play a dominate role with autistic children who have found their inner genius, at least that’s true for my boys. Our next challenge will be to solve that problem as they move to higher education. My solution is online education. The three of us will be attending the Art Institute for their Associate Degrees. I say three of us because they will be taking the same courses and I will be able to make sure they understand the academics necessary to get that degree. So far the Art Institute is our choice, they offer a good Video gaming / Media arts course, but that may change. I wish you and your family the best of luck with the struggles of autism and I truly thank you for your support. Always remember. “Cheeo is the greatest enemy of all Autisarians because he comes from within. He is pure evil, but wherever evil exists there is always an overwhelming force of good to fight it. I AM SURVIVOR!”

Thank you, Lonnie. Your quote about Cheeo and Survivor brought me to tears. And yes, I think you’re absolutely right about online education. I vividly recall Temple Grandin, perhaps the most famous advocate for autism awareness, as she has full-blown autism but is a professor and leading expert in her field, writing that the internet leveled the playing field and made it possible for people with autism to use their intelligence to work and create without having to deal with the real-life workforce, where facial expressions and vocal intonations and nuances were lost on them. Go, Survivor, go!!! And God bless you.

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