Knabb: A HEC of a valuable service opportunity

Justin Runquist

Villanova posts announcements about retreats and service opportunities the same way they fill our inboxes with random e-mails.

There’s a lot to choose from – which is good. In fact, there are so many good things to do here that it’s overwhelming at times.

I’ve attended many retreats during my time here. Some have been fun and eye-opening. Some made me wish I were back at a bar with a beer in my hand.

This past weekend I think I found the ultimate service retreat. It’s called Handicapped Encounter Christ. It really was an encounter – one that will change my outlook on life for a long, long time. It was as positive as the Special Olympics festival will be this weekend, but HEC was also uplifting in its own, unique way.

So, I figured I’d post my very own announcement: The HEC retreat will rock your world! It happens again next March. I think you should attend.

I’d like to write something flashier, but that basic statement is all I can write. A boisterous plea won’t do the trick, as opinions about service put people on the defensive. And attempts at testimonials probably won’t do a positive service experience justice.

Trust me when I suggest considering HEC and seeing what it’s about. You will single-handedly light up a disabled person’s life. And they’ll light up your life as well.

One thing is more certain than all the above: you will realize you are equals when the weekend is up. When living with a disabled person for a weekend and helping them each day – from the very moments they wake to the moments they retire for the night – you will undoubtedly come to understand the worth of each single person is equal.

Now that I mentioned several positive things, it’s only fair that I admit one negative. Even when I decided to sign up for HEC, I could find it in myself to get excited about it. Curiosity was the element that was driving me. I wondered, “What would life be like with limited use of my body? Won’t I just walk away feeling sorry?” But I didn’t walk away feeling sorry. I walked away feeling uplifted – like a person who was re-baptized. It culminated in a jamboree on Saturday, when I danced with a person limited to a wheelchair – which I consider one of the 10 greatest moments of life.