It may be just one day, but regardless, he will always be my strong-willed, determined Olympian who was so happy!
Each year, my son’s school joins area districts to compete in the Special Olympics Game Days. Participants compete in 2 events, and yes, everyone gets a medal. It was rained out on its initial date and rescheduled for the same day as my son’s eighth grade field trip. He chose the Olympics over the field trip; he loves the day that much.
We were ready for the Special Olympics Game Day!
Camaraderie: check ✓
Teamwork: check ✓
Pride: check ✓
Lots of Cheers: check ✓
Community: check ✓
Everyone is genuinely happy. The kids that had several meltdowns the week before were now wearing ear-to-ear smiles. Kids who tend to stand by themselves were standing with their peers and clapping, encouraging their peers. Zero judgement. Zero frustration. Complete acceptance.. HAPPY.
In between events, there were dunk tanks, lawn games, face painting, hot dogs, and frozen lemonade. Occasionally, there would be a group that would spontaneously bust some funky dance moves. Instead of staring, bystanders (myself included) joined in.. HAPPY.
A Lesson Learned
Shamefully, I admit that I never considered signing him up for local teams and programs provided by the Special Olympics until this day. He had always played on the town recreation baseball teams, but his lack of attention and coordination have become glaringly obvious over the past few years. As the kids get older, the ball is hit and thrown harder. I worried about him getting hurt. I had decided that this would be his last year playing the sport he loves so much.
As I watched my son throw the softball 85 feet to win gold, I felt relief knowing that there was another way and another opportunity to investigate. I put a note in my phone to remind myself to do some research (ok, I confess, writing that sentence reminded me I still have to do it). Knowing that there is a solution to finding new activities.. HAPPY!
After he won the silver in the 50M dash, we had a photo shoot as if he was to be featured in Sports Illustrated. He willingly and playfully posed with his medals and laughed every step of the way.. HAPPY!
It was a day of accomplishment, pride and love. It was a day when I cheered and jumped up and down in a way that is unflattering for a middle-aged woman, but I didn’t have a care in the world. I was surrounded by bravery and spirit.. HAPPY.