The National Advocate for People with Down Syndrome Since 1979

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Signing With Sandi
Signing With Sandi

Lisa Smith was born in 1975. Lisa's mom, Vicki, remembers the blank expressions on the faces of hospital staff. She remembers being questioned about taking her baby home. She recalls hearing that many babies with Down syndrome were institutionalized. But Lisa was born to a mom with grit and a deep desire to raise her baby. Being told not to treat her newborn special seems so ironic now. Lisa IS special, and her extraordinary gift has reached tens of thousands of people following a "chance" encounter with a professional singer who holds 39 Dove and 5 Grammy Awards. Singer Sandi Patty speaks of Lisa, "Many of you have had the privilege of seeing my sweet friend, Lisa Smith do sign language with me at several concerts and Women of Faith events. She is truly an amazing young lady. Lisa is such an encouragement wherever she goes and I am so thankful that this lovely angel of God has come into my life." Lisa was signing her heart out using what little sign language she knew in the year 2000. Vicki and her husband thought their daughter Lisa might really enjoy learning to sign more so they contacted a sign language teacher at Denton High School in Texas. Marla took meticulous care of presenting material to Lisa in simple ways she'd understand. After a few brief lessons, Lisa astounded her teacher. What takes most students a year to learn was mastered by Lisa in weeks. Lisa's favorite singer was Sandi Patty, so learning to sign along with Sandi's CDs was a huge motivation. Even with all her progress, Vicki was nervous and protective of her daughter's feelings when Lisa announced she wanted to sign with Sandi some day. Vicki dismissed her daughter's confidence by reminding her that Sandi was a very famous person and advised her to just pray about it. Lisa prayed. Lisa signed. Lisa attended concerts given by Sandi Patty every time Sandi performed in her area. Lisa was the fan, way up front, swaying and signing every word just as she had been doing in her bedroom for the past couple of years. You couldn't miss Lisa; the infectious radiant joy that permeates a room when you are in the presence of someone extraordinary someone, well, very, very special. In December 2004, Christian singer and celebrity, Sandi Patty, walked across a concert stage towards Lisa and winked to her as she sat on the 2nd row. Sandi began singing. Her award winning voice reached the rafters, echoing out into the lobby filling the hearts of all concert goers. Lisa's singing reached Sandi's eyes. Sandi's heart was filled. She motioned for Lisa to join her. On October 3, 2006, Lisa appeared on the Dr. Phil show along with prominent speakers from Women of Faith. When asked what her favorite part of the experience was Lisa replied, "Signing with Sandi." (Derivative work by Colleen Bailey from "Signing With Sandi" essay, Windows Into Heaven, 2008. www.lisasmithsigns.com)




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