Monday, April 23, 2007

My weekend with Special Olympics

Spring is here!! Spring is here!! The snow is gone, people are back outside, and life is back to being warmer here in the Green Mountain State and it is about time!!

This weekend was a busy one for me, but I am not complaining at all. Saturday and Sunday, I was honored to speak at the Opening Ceremonies and announce medal winners at the Special Olympics Spring Games at UVM. For many years, I have been a volunteer with Special Olympics and this is an organization which means the world to me.

These are individuals who have taught me what it really means to live life. The athletes have various developmental disabilities, but hold down jobs, perform community service, and in the case of one athlete, he is training to be a Special Olympics coach. (Way to go Greg.)

What people don't seem to realize about those with developmental disabilities is they have abilities the rest of us just don't have. These are people who see people for what they are and not what society thinks they should be. It doesn't matter if you are black, white, Asian, or any other race; they like people when they are nice to them. If you smile, they smile back.

I talked in the opening ceremonies about what they have taught me about life, and they have taught me more than I can even comprehend. They ran, they put up some killer three balls, but when they did something we would call failure, they just smiled. I have never seen so many high fives, loud cheers for opponents, and playing a game for what it is; a game. I saw one woman who started crying out of pure joy when she received her fourth place ribbon. I probably would have taken a match to the thing and had a ceremonial burning.

I was talking to one of my neighbors earlier on in the week and mentioned I would be at Special Olympics volunteering. He then started doing his imitation of a disabled athlete saying even he could beat one of them in a race. Well, he may be able to beat one of them running, but he will never compete with the class and style these guys and gals do. Remember everyone, these are individuals who are the same as you and I are. The only difference between us is our needs are different, and they have abilities we simply don't have. Being able to see people for what they are, for who they are, and being able to cherish playing a game is something we can all learn from. Thanks everyone for putting my life, and the lives of others into perspective again.


Anonymous said...

You're a good man, and I applaud your restraint in not smacking your neighbor.

--your sis

Fells said...

Kiddo, you have no idea how badly I wanted to throttle the guy. Ignorant twit.......