Of People of Power



We have a powerful person in our family, except he doesn’t know it. His name is Scott Clegg, the third child of my brother Mike and his wife Sue, born on July 9, 1973, with Down syndrome. At age three he also developed leukemia—a challenge to treat with the usual medications. But now he’s a happy forty; and because of Scott, great things have happened.

Mike and Sue lived close enough to University Hospitals to be able to take turns being with their little boy during his bout with leukemia, and realized out-of-town parents of sick children needed a place to stay and bond. Result: Mike founded the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland.  

Scott helped keep his teenaged brother in line. When the paper did a story on the family, Chris said: “I’ve seen kids at school do things to their bodies with drugs and alcohol that I could never do after watching my little brother fight so hard to live.”

Scott carried the Olympic torch through the Public Square before the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, raising a lot of money for Special Olympics.

Mike won the battle for an independent group home in a nice neighborhood where Scott now lives with three other handicapped people. It has become the model for others in Ohio.

Scott’s parents were stunned when he was born. They weren’t expecting a child who would never read a book or memorize a multiplication table. “Remember the piece by that ‘Sesame Street’ writer?” asks Mike. “You’ve been planning for nine months to go to Italy, but when your plane touches down, the pilot comes onto the intercom and says ‘Welcome to Holland’. You’re pissed, you’re not prepared, but then you realize Holland has tulips and windmills and isn’t all that bad.”

Raising a disabled child, Mike points out, you manage your expectations more realistically. Anything he does is a plus; you get excited. You don’t take things for granted; you applaud achievement. You reach out more to all kinds of people and end up embracing imperfection.

“Scotty is why I have so many different kinds of friends,” says his sister Tracey, “because to him everybody is the same, whether they’re old or young, fat or skinny.”

And he certainly has a talent for making people laugh. Some endearing stories: Scott had gained weight so he was told he couldn’t buy any wrestling comic books—a Saturday treat—if he kept sneaking snacks. One night Mike heard noises in the kitchen and found him in his pajamas reaching into the refrigerator. Looking up, he saw his father, closed the fridge door, put his arms straight out in front of him and sleepwalked back to his room.

Scott wanted to watch Happy Days instead of going to church Christmas Eve and his father was trying to get him into his blazer: “They’ll sing all those songs you like, and have candles and live animals,” noted Mike, “and you can say ‘Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!’ ” “Oh, no,” said Scott with a groan. “Is He going to be there, too?”

Waiting for the Olympic torch to arrive in the Public Square, Scott led the 200 intellectually disabled people in the bleachers in a cheer for himself: “Give me an S!” (they yelled “S!”). “Give me a C!” (“C!”), and so on. Finally, “What’s it spell?” And nobody knew.

Scott went next door to visit neighbors, big tennis buffs, who were giving a dinner party that night. Everything was ready, the table set, the water poured. After he left, the hostess returned to the dining room to find a tennis ball floating in each glass.

Watching through a one-way glass window while Scott interviewed for a job, Mike saw the people around the table suddenly start laughing and loosening their ties. He’d answered a string of questions about things like where he’d gone to school, then stopped abruptly, commenting: “You know, I think I’ve given you entirely too much information.”

“Hey, Aunt, I’ve got bad news,” Scott told me. “Billy Smith died.” “I’m sorry to hear that,” I replied, “but I didn’t know Billy Smith.” “Well,” said Scott, “it’s too late!”  

After a haircut, Scott said to the young receptionist at the shop, “You’re so cute I could kiss you!” Driving home, Mike told him that was inappropriate and he should apologize. So next time they went, he said to her: “I’m so sorry, so sorry.” She didn’t know what for until Mike explained. “Oh, that’s okay, Scott,” she said. “Don’t worry about it.” But he kept apologizing. “I’m really, really sorry—so how about lunch?”

His mother was in the hospital with a lung problem and Scott wanted to visit her. “Sure,” Mike agreed. “When do you want to go?” “How about next Saturday?” answered Scott. “I’ve got a very busy week.”

In fact a group called Pathways keeps him busy on weekdays; twice a month he takes tickets at Shaker Square Cinema; and he just "raced" for Our Lady of the Wayside, a group that offers services for 300 mentally and developmentally handicapped people, flashing V for Victory at the finish line.

On our last visit Jack and I joined the Cleggs at Benihana where Scott brought down the house doing a perfect imitation of a Japanese waiter—complete with bowing and ah-sos—which led the hibachi chef to remark: “You know, if there were more people like Scott in the world, it would be a better place.”

Scott Clegg is indeed a victor—a guy who, with his family, has made more of an impact on society than he will ever know.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Harvest Fair and Gift Show

    2014.11.01
     @ Second Congregational Church

    Event Will Include Hay Mazes, Games, Crafts, Food, Holiday Shopping The community is invited to a Harvest Fair and Gift Show on Saturday, Nov....

  • New Fitness Class: SalsaTone

    2014.11.01
     @ Latin Moves Dance Studio

    Starting November 1st ~ Every Saturday morning 10 to 11 AM Instructor: Melissa Lopez Start your weekend off right with this exciting cardio...

  • Exhibit Ira BARKOFF

    2014.10.11
     @ Canfin Gallery

    “The beauty of the physical world becomes a metaphor for the capacity of the spirit to reveal itself". Ira Barkoff Evocation of...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    FLINN GALLERY Opening Reception 'IN FOCUS' Thursday October 30, 6 - 8pm Seven artists share their visions - Carolyn Conrad,...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Flower Power

    2014.10.08
     @ SM Home Gallery

    SM Home Gallery show featuring two Greenwich based artists: Margaret Bragg and Penny Putnam. The art show runs thorough November 22nd....

  • Lynne Scalo Design Opening

    2014.11.05

    Please join Lynne Scalo, Greenwich Magazine and athome Magazine to celebrate the Greenwich showroom opening of Lynne Scalo Design Cocktails...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show

    2014.11.06
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Breast Cancer Alliance to Host Branching Out, Coming Together, Aspiring to a Cure 19th Annual Benefit Luncheon & Fashion Show: November 6,...

  • Free Screening of Documentary ' Children of the Inquisition'

    2014.11.06
     @ Bush-Holley House

    Join filmmaker Joseph Lovett as he presents his documentary film and multi-platform project of personal exploration and...

  • P.A.L.S. 2nd Annual Soarin' Soiree~ November 7, 2014

    2014.11.07
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    You are invited to join our State Senator, L. Scott Frantz and our First Selectman, Peter J. Tesei, for an awe-inspiring evening to benefit Patient...

  • John Hardy Event

    2014.11.08
     @ Bloomingdale's

    John Hardy One of a kind. One at a time. Each by hand. Bloomingdale's is inviting YOU to meet the head designer Guy Bedarida as he presents...

  • Olivine Gabbro Opening

    2014.11.08

    Olivine Gabbro invites you to join them for their Opening Party! DJ | Cocktails | H'Orderves | Gift Bags Made to Measure Beautifully...

  • Meet Joshua Safran, Author of "Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid"

    2014.11.11
     @ YWCA Greenwich

    Meet the author of this powerful memoir. Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, occasional rabbi, and nationally recognized advocate for...

  • Markham Roberts: Decorating the Way I See It

    2014.11.13
     @ Belle Haven Club

    Join us as Interior Designer Markham Roberts shares coveted design insights, key to creating the perfect home. The program will include...

  • AGAPANTHUS RISING

    2014.11.18
     @ Greenwich Water Club

    Like the Agapanthus flower, which starts as just a seed, we all have something to share with the world.  Sadly, we don't always nurture...

  • The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Hyatt Regency Greenwich

    Junior League of Greenwich presents 2014 Enchanted Forest! Holiday Boutiques Gingerbeard Workshops Santa's Breakfast...

  • Junior League of Greenwich The Enchanted Forest

    2014.11.21
     @ Junior League of Greenwich

    The Junior League of Greenwich (JLG) will host its annual holiday fundraiser, The Enchanted Forest on Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November...


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