After a nice relaxing drive with the sun shining and the radio cranked up, I parked near a co-worker and we headed to the registration area. It was amazing to see all of the volunteers lined up, ready to help out in this great event. After checking in, we headed to our assigned area on the track – the 50 meter walk/dash.
While I was walking to our designated area, I noticed all of the different kids walking around. College kids on their way to class, Special Olympics athletes getting ready to compete, and siblings ready to cheer on family members. And on almost every face, a look of happiness, a carefree look, one that I rarely have.
At the beginning of the event, the athletes were ready to go. Talk about excited! In a time when sports seem to be more about money, drama, and texting scandals, it is so refreshing to see kids just wanting to have fun and do their best! There was no pressure to be number one, nor were there numerous parents yelling at their kids. (Sorry for the soapbox – but it annoys me!).
As the day progressed, I didn’t feel like I was the one helping out. In fact, it was quite the opposite – these kids and parents were helping me. Watching the smiles and cheers as each athlete made an attempt at the 50 meters made me feel as if I were a part of something special. It didn’t matter if a runner came in first or last, what mattered he/she tried AND was cheered along the entire way!
Additionally, the patience these parents/guardians had with the athletes was amazing. As a busy mom, I often lose patience or get frustrated over the littlest things. When A or B don’t listen or are too busy watching TV or coloring, I often get annoyed. But I tend to take for granted that A & B can walk, talk and function with no limitations. At almost 5 years old, they don’t struggle with calling me Mommy or running 50 meters. I am blessed with 2 miracles that, although born early, are basically “normal.” (I put quotes around normal, as I am not sure what normal truly means.)
Each time I volunteer I am reminded that I sometimes I need to take a step back from the frantic life I have and give thanks for all of my blessings, no matter how small or basic. And to borrow the oath of the Special Olympics:
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
I hope everyone has a wonderful day and takes time to count their blessings. And if you ever have a chance to volunteer at the Special Olympics, please do. It will have a great effect on your outlook.