Oh, to become like this young man

Oh, that we all would become more and more like this young man . . .

Published on Feb 13, 2014

Shawn Riney is not your typical lover. He is cross-eyed, mumbles, cleans lunch trays at the local Catholic High School, and has 47 chromosomes – one extra. Shawn has Down Syndrome.

Shawn Riney is 41, has three sisters and one brother, and is the son of Moggie and Frank Riney. Shawn lives in Owensboro, Kentucky. He has his high school diploma but will never be able to live on his own.

On the other side of Owensboro lives Amy Payne with her husband Tom. Amy and Tom have three children: Meghan, Sarah, and Will. Amy teaches at River Valley Behavioral Health Elementary School and works with children who suffer from familial, psychological, and behavioral problems.

About 16 years ago the Riney family and the Payne family decided to go trick-or-treating together for Halloween. Amy went with most of the children, searching for candy throughout the neighborhood, and Tom stayed with Shawn at the Payne home; together Tom and Shawn handed out candy. Shawn loved it and he wanted to go back again to the Payne home. This ritual of visiting eventually evolved into the Paynes picking up Shawn to take him to their home every weekend. Amy and the Payne family have been doing this for 16 years: no pay, just love.

The short documentary film “Shawn’s Eyes” shows how Amy and the Payne are fascinated, enamored, and in love with what this simple Down Syndrome man brings to their house each week. Amy says: “Shawn has blessed us a hundredfold.” When Shawn comes over he brings a duffel bag, his “shaving equipment,” and his “office works.” But more, he brings unceasing affection and innocence.

“Shawn’s Eyes” is a love story. But it’s not your typical love story. It’s not a story about mere altruism or mere goodness. It is the surprisingly candid and sometimes shocking story of the simplicity, the affection, and the genuineness of a man, that 9 out of 10 parents would have aborted. Amy fell head over heals for Shawn and Shawn has had his effect on the whole family.

A Valentine’s Day love story: Amy loves Shawn.

On a personal note, Amy Payne is in the hospital today. She is recovering from an extensive surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her back. All of her family and, of course, Shawn have been with here in the hospital where she is recovering from surgery. Please pray that Amy will make a complete recovery so that she can continue taking care of her children (biological children, school children, Shawn, and five foster children).

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