Sports Talk: Enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday in her own way

She cannot run, dribble or shoot.

She has no idea what a basketball even is.

But Jennifer Ann is a battler, who, like the one in Katy Perry’s hit song “Roar,” faces challenges on a daily basis.

“I got the eye of the tiger, the fire / Dancing through the fire / ‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear / me roar.” (Perry)

Oh, yes, Jennifer Ann’s also my brown-eyed daughter, and if she could “roar,” she definitely would, but…

You see, she was born multi-handicapped. She’s been unable to see, walk (let alone run), and speak for over 30 years now. But she is still able to communicate, because she can smile.

If you’re feeling depressed, her smile, which is the universal language and doesn’t need any translation, will perk your spirits up. It’s a vocalization of love.

Smiling is just one of her two distinguishing features.

The other is her hair.

She is easily recognized by the hair.

Some people might believe that she’d just gone to the beauty parlor and had a permanent, but it’s naturally beautiful, dark and curly.

If she were bald, her handicap would be more evident. The skull is small -microcephalic – and according to doctors, the brain has stopped growing.

She’ll never marry or bear children.

She’ll always be bedridden or confined to a wheelchair.

Even so, with constant and continuous care over the years from numerous people, she, like a true champion against all odds, plugs along.

She has touched many lives, and everyone who knows her is inspired and loves her.

Today, Thanksgiving, she will not taste turkey or pumpkin pie, because she is fed through a G-tube.

She will not be able to view of course any football games on the TV.

But make no mistake about it, she will enjoy the holiday in her own way.

Once, long ago, I dreamt that she was playing basketball and soaring high in the air to the rim. On her face, she had this big smile, and not one hair was out of place.

The crowd was on its feet and cheering.

Then, I woke up.

“Roar” or not, Jennifer Ann’s just fine the way she is.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at