The Heart of Midnight Farm: Touchdowns, Art, and Unbreakable Bonds

The Heart of Midnight Farm: Touchdowns, Art, and Unbreakable Bonds

The wide receiver clearly had a plan. He made eye contact with the quarterback and sprung into action. With a quick stutter step, he juked his defender and taking advantage of the broken coverage sprinted towards the end zone. The quarterback threw a perfect deep spiral that sailed confidently through the air before landing safely right into the young receiver’s hands. Touchdown! 

Sure, it was just a game of flag football at Midnight Farm, but the masterfully executed play was spectacular, nevertheless.  I was impressed and…intrigued. There was something other than the game – the crafty wide receiver seemed vaguely familiar. Where had I seen this young man? The quarterback sprinted towards him for a celebratory high-five: Great play! What a catch! Well done, Travis!

Travis…Oh gosh, no doubt! This was Travis! Of course, I know him. Only the last time I saw him he certainly wasn’t that tall, strong and athletic. And that perfectly groomed beard was still far into the future. 

Travis, you see, was classmates with my daughter Alena, when they were in elementary school. I remember Alena telling me about how much fun he is and how he loves sports. They both shared love for music, comedies and their teacher Mr. Dorsey. 

Since my daughter wasn’t very social, I really appreciated Travis who was one of just a handful of friends, she managed to make in first grade.

After elementary school we lost touch with him. It had been more than a decade until I saw him pull that nifty football play at Midnight Farm. He recognized me too – we high-fived, talked football and reminisced about the old times.

Midnight Farm does so many things. It can teach, shelter, create, play, advocate, entertain, promote growth, and so much more. But one of the things that often remains unnoticed is that it connects people.

Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Travis regularly. He enjoys a vast variety of activities offered by Midnight Farm and has been part of the Day Services program for years. He is always front and center whenever a special event is on the schedule. Midnight Farm is known to host several of these each month. One of his favorites is the annual “Color Run” but you will see him as the heart and soul of many sporting events, competitions, games, dances and more. 

Travis also loves the farm animals and often helps the staff with their daily care and routines.

His mother Tina is a big supporter of Midnight Farm and feels that the programs, staff and the place itself have enriched her son’s life. A lot of people here might say he has done the same for Midnight Farm.

Just like my daughter, Travis is very selective when it comes to getting close to people but once you are in his inner circle, he is as loyal a friend as you can get. Since we have so much in common Travis, and I hit it off quickly and became good buddies. We both share the same sense of humor, interest in sports, fast cars, old video games, baseball hats and even art. In the last years our high-fives have given way to big hugs and our conversations have gotten longer and longer. 

We all have our triggers – things that can take us out of our comfort zone and even occasionally upset us. With sensory overload omnipresent in our hectic, modern world things can become downright overwhelming. Even with Travis’ patience, occasionally, he needs to get away from big crowds and overstimulation.

Enter Midnight Farm.

Yes, there are many lively and well-attended events and classes here, but this place can also be a sanctuary and escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Travis can always take advantage of the farm surroundings and go for a nature walk, but he also has his own favorite space here. What used to be a Tack Room has become a cozy and quiet “Travis’ office” where he can relax, listen to music, watch a movie, browse the internet, paint art or simply turn the lights off and unwind. 

Right around Christmas, I found him in this room hanging out with his favorite day services staff member Michael. Similar in age and demeanor they are like brothers and seem to communicate without words. The walls of the room are adorned with art projects they created together. 

“Ivo, my man!” greeted me Travis with his trademark bear hug, “Check this out – I have Christmas gifts for you and for Alena.” He presented me with beautiful, personalized Christmas cards he had hand-crafted for me and my daughter. 

A few days later Alena insisted on joining me on my next visit to the farm. She had a Christmas present for Travis as well. Watching them reconnect after all these years was beautiful. Smiling ear to ear, they hugged, laughed, joked and shared memories about their old teacher Mr. Dorsey. As she looked in amazement at the art projects on the walls Alena exclaimed: “Wow! This is a real art gallery, Trav! If I had money, I’d buy some of these”. Travis smiled big and needless to say, she went home with a few more presents that day. 

Midnight Farm does so many things. It can teach, shelter, create, play, advocate, entertain, promote growth, and so much more. But one of the things that often remains unnoticed is that it connects people. Yes, this place has the rare power to foster relationships and reveal friendships – both new and old. Within its foundation thrives a unique community. This is the real reason Midnight Farm is a home away from home for Travis and so many others. And this is the real reason staff members like Michael don’t view this as just another job. You can’t clock in and out of a relationship.

The drive back was mostly quiet until Alena sighed: “You know, I hadn’t seen Travis for such a long time. I realized I’ve been missing him all these years. Isn’t it amazing? We are both adults now but today…it felt like we were kids again. It was such a good feeling. You know…Travis, the memories, the farm. I know we just left but…”, she paused for nearly a mile,” when can we go back again?”

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