my closed her eyes. Ignore him, she told herself as she headed for her classroom.
But at the end of the day, Amy was still thinking about the tall boy's mean teasing. It wasn't as if her were the only one. It seemed that ever since Amy started the third grade, someone teased her every single day. Kids teased her about her speech or her limping. Amy was tired of it. Sometimes, even in a classroom full of other students, the teasing made her feel all alone.
Back home at the dinner table that evening, Amy was quiet. Her mother knew that things were not going well at school. That's why Patti Hagadorn was happy to have some exciting news to share with her daughter.
While Amy worked away at her best printing, the rest of the family tried to guess what she might ask from Santa. Amy's sister, Jamie, and Amy's mom both thought a three-foot Barbie doll would top Amy's wish list. Amy's dad guessed a picture book. But Amy wasn't ready to reveal her secret Christmas wish just then. Here is Amy's letter to Santa, just as she wrote it that night:
My name is Amy. I am nine years old. I have a problem at school. Can you help me Santa? Kids laugh at me because of the way I walk and run and talk. I have cerebral palsy. I just want one day where no one laughs at me or makes fun of me.
At radio station WJLT in Fort Wayne, Indiana, letter poured in for the Christmas wish contest. The workers had fun reading about all the different presents that boys and girls from across the city wanted for Christmas.
When Amy's letter arrived at the radio station, manager Lee Tobin read it carefully. He knew cerebral palsy was a muscle disorder that might confuse the schoolmates of Amy's who didn't understand her disability. He thought it would be good for the people in Fort Wayne to hear about this special third-grader and her unusual wish. Mr. Tobin called up the local newspaper.
The next day, a picture of Amy and her letter to Santa made the front page of the News Sentinel. The story spread quickly. All across the country, newspapers and radio and television stations reported the story of the little girl in Fort Wayne, Indiana, who asked for such a simple yet remarkable Christmas gift -- just one day without teasing.
Suddenly the postman was a regular at the Hagadorn house. Envelopes of all sizes addressed to Amy arrived daily from children and adults all across the nation. They came filled with holiday greetings and words of encouragement.
During that unforgettable Christmas season, over two thousand people from all over the world sent Amy letters of friendship and support. Amy and her family read every single one. Some of the writers had disabilities; some had been teased as children. Each writer had a special message for Amy. Through the cards and letters from strangers, Amy glimpsed a world full of people who truly cared about each other. She realized that no amount or form of teasing could ever make her feel lonely again.
Amy did get her wish of a special day without teasing at South Wayne Elementary School. Additionally, everyone at school got another bonus. Teachers and students talked together about how bad teasing can make others feel.
That year the Fort Wayne mayor officially proclaimed December 21 as Amy Jo Hagadorn Day throughout the city. The mayor explained that by daring to make such a simple wish, Amy taught a universal lesson.