Essay winner: What I learned from my sister about serving others


[Editor’s note: The following essay by Brittany Butler was the J.C. Booth Middle School seventh-grade first-place winner in the Peachtree City Rotary Club’s “Laws of Life” student essay contest. Not long after she wrote and submitted this essay, Brittany’s sister drowned in a tragic swimming pool accident in Florida.]

Everyone has their own set of laws for living life, but how we understand them and what we do with them makes them special. I got mine two months before my third birthday. My little sister was born.

I’m ashamed to say that after she was born, I wished that I was the only daughter. Every minute I was asked to do something for her: get a pacifier, help feed her, change her diaper, rock her, talk to her.

It wasn’t until I reached age 5 or so that I stopped resenting my sister and decided that I should get to know her better. I would talk to her and care for her, but it was then that I knew something was wrong. She would just sit there, never getting up to play with me. I was worried and didn’t understand, so that is when I asked my mother why my sister acted so differently than me.

After that conversation, I had a change of heart towards my sister. It changed the way I looked at her and how I felt about my responsibilities as her big sister.

My sister was born two months premature with cerebral palsy. While pregnant, my mother was placed on blood thinner because of a blood clot. As a result of this blood thinner, less oxygen was able to travel through my mother’s blood to my sister’s body. This caused my sister’s brain to form abnormally.

My sister is in a wheelchair, but can communicate with me. Just like all of my other family members, she shows me unconditional love. I have accepted my sister’s handicap with an open heart and mind and know that it is my duty to be my sister’s helper.

Having her in my life opened my eyes to other people like her and has made me a more giving person. It has taught me to be patient and unselfish. I have done my best every day to be the best sister I can be.

Now, my laws of life are service to others, kindness, and not judging someone because of what they look like or can’t do.

[Local teachers may submit high quality student essays for consideration, though there is no assurance of selection or publication. Submit by email to Terry Garlock, community volunteer, at]