The Gift to His Grandson from a Man of Great Character
Few may exceed the first tenet of the Jordan Standard, but in the case of Ken Lambert ’60, great is the appropriate designation. We ask that you read the letter offered here, written by Ken’s grandson, Oliver Rayner. You will see how dedication and love gave a child the most meaningful gift possible: a realization of his full potential. After reading Oliver’s words, it is highly likely that the challenge, “do it right, or do it again,” will remain with you for your lifetime. Certainly Ken, a former Xi Xi consul and successful orthopedic surgeon, proved a man never reaches so high as when he stops to help a child.
Right and Again
What I Learned in Boot Camp
By: Oliver Rayner
I was over 2 and still not talking when my parents consulted a specialist who told them, “I am sorry, but your son seems to have a developmental delay which may make speech and coordination problematic. He may never gain fine motor skills.”
To prove his point, I guess, the doctor handed me a ball. I threw it back—hard—at his head. He wasn’t expecting the return, but did not modify his assessment. Regrettably, he felt there was little hope for the chubby toddler standing before him.
Outside the office afterward, my grandfather, who was at the meeting, growled to my parents: “He doesn’t know what he is talking about. Did you see that throw? Oliver can develop better skills than that guy says.” This led to what my grandfather and I would later call Toddler Boot Camp.
Every day I would wedge my fat little feet into sneakers, which I mostly put on the wrong foot, and would be led by my mom across the street to my grandparents’ house. First I would be commanded to jump up and down from the couch many, many times. Then came a modified football tire drill, with me stumbling through rubber rings, over and over. Next came wriggling on my belly through a pop-up tunnel. Then my grandfather marched me to nearby woods for Wilderness Trail Fitness. Stepping over rocks, jumping over tree limbs, and running up hills was a sweaty warm-up for what was to come after—The Training Camp.
To develop my hand-eye coordination, my grandfather would endlessly throw balls of different sizes to me. I would have to toss them back or aim them in various buckets and baskets. He would encourage competition (or was it temper tantrums?) by pitting me against my older sister, who would smugly outperform me. Whining didn’t get me very far. “There are two ways to do things,” he told me. “The right way and again.” I was learning early that giving in to frustration or self-pity was not an option.
Finally sometime after age 3—to my sister’s despair—I began to talk. I was a bossy kid at first, ordering my friends around, telling them where to stand and what to do. Since they hadn’t put me in charge of them, they were no good at following my commands. This communication task was as hard as the hand-eye drills. I had to pay attention to others and work on abstract skills like self-control and modesty.
Boot Camp progressed to climbing walls, climbing trees, and jumping on trampolines. I learned to swim and ski. Life was an adventure. My grandfather no longer had to push me. Throughout grade school and middle school, I tried nearly every sport I could—baseball, track, tennis, football, and basketball—but I didn’t yet feel as though a sport chose me until my second year at Classical High School.
I am now a middle on the varsity volleyball team—a position that requires lightning reflexes, precise blocking, good timing, and placement for spiking. The game is inconsistent and unpredictable, and what I particularly love is that everyone has to work together and always play our hardest, especially when we are losing. Thanks to the years of Boot Camp, my coordination and fine motor skills could not be better but—more importantly—as I begin my senior year, I am team captain and a leader because my grandfather believed in me and taught me, day after day, to believe in myself.
When I was 2, the doctor who predicted my future did not know how my family would meet the challenge. He could not know how hard we could work. I was probably right to throw that little ball at his head. He didn’t see what was inside us. He didn’t see what was inside me.
Click on the names below to read past spotlight articles.
Doug and Sally—House Parents
Joseph W. Parent ’60
James Grimaldi ’84
Bill Beil ’83
Doug Copeland ’77
Richard Jensen ’56