National Ambassador Shares the Value of Friendship

National Ambassador Amy Shinneman with her best friend, Shelli

It’s an honor to be able to share my thoughts on friendship and what that means to me to celebrate friendship day! For those of you who have been around long enough to remember the popular Dionne Warwick song, “That’s What Friends Are For”, you may remember the chorus which says, “Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure, that’s what friends are for, for good times, and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more, That’s what friends are for.” It’s a great song, so if you don’t know it, give it a listen, and if you do know it, I bet you were singing it in your head as you read the lyrics!

My best friend Shelli is often who comes to mind when I hear that song. I have lots of great friends, who I wouldn’t hesitate to call my best friends because they are all so wonderful, and many have been friends from a young age. Shelli has been a friend since the beginning of my school years. I don’t ever remember a time when she let my disability get in the way of our friendship. She was always there for me, encouraging me to keep smiling, keep shining and I always knew I could count on her. She could make me laugh until I cried just by looking at me a certain way. We have that kind of bond where we are the same kind of weird!

Amy and Shelli

When she sent me a text asking me if I wanted to go adaptive water skiing, I smiled and laughed thinking of the adventure we would make that into. And that we did! The sign of a great friend is when they are just as excited or even more so for something that they know will be a great thing for you. I had heard about adaptive water skiing. I tried adaptive snow skiing, so I previously checked into the adaptive water skiing because that seemed like the next logical step! When I checked into it last summer, I had missed the deadline for the adaptive water skiing clinic in my area. I was disappointed. I tabled it and forgot about it, until she sent me that message. I was all in! I had no idea what to expect, and neither did she, but we were in it together.

As soon as we arrived, we were warmly greeted and checked in for the big adventure. Shelli did a great job of keeping me laughing of course and calming my nerves. She may be mad at me for telling you this story, but it’s just too good not to share. Shelli was taking pictures of me and doting on me just like another mother would. One of the volunteers came up to me and said, “Is your mom going to go out on the pontoon boat to watch you ski?” while glancing at Shelli. As soon as she walked away, we were hysterical, and of course, I had to call her mom for the rest of the day! Funny enough though, she had the enthusiasm of a mother, and the encouragement and love like a mother would that day. When I watched the videos she took of me that day, I was overcome with emotion when I heard her cheering for me and screaming with excitement as I finally got the hang of it.

Amy and Shelli

I asked Shelli to share a few words of her perspective from that day. She says, “Amy and I have always shared a love of the water. We were on the swim team together from a very young age and spent many days playing in each other’s pools. When I found out about the adaptive water skiing, I was absolutely thrilled!!! I seriously think I was more excited than her. I felt every frustration she did each time she fell, but when she got up and stayed up, I was so excited!!! I was screaming for her with so much pride and joy!!! To see my best friend, get to do something she’s never been able to do as a disabled person, the feeling is just indescribable! I was honored to be with her that day, and to be forever best friends.” I mean, how lucky am I to have a friend who cares so deeply about me and my wellbeing? Our history together runs deep and wide, and has been filled not only with good times, but also extreme hardships throughout our lives. We have “carried” each other at times.