Wednesday, February 11, 2009

World Special Olympics 2009

I am lucky enough to live in a town hosting the World Special Olympics this year. There are some really amazing people volunteering and of course- the athletes. I don't know how to say it all. I don't know if anyone can.
Last year my cloggers and I, and then again the Irish dancers and I danced for the closing ceremonies for the Idaho Special Olympics. That was my first encounter with the Special Olympics. That was when I knew I was hooked. I got to see hundreds of cheering athletes, coaches and volunteers. They were having the time of their life, and so was I. I loved looking out at the faces of the athletes and seeing their excitement. Life should have more joy in it like that.
I knew then that the World Special Olympics was to be in Idaho for 2009. I knew we would be a part of it again. I just didn't know how much it would touch me. I want to give you just a couple glimpses.
My cloggers were performing for the athletes from Canada at a dinner. While I was watching my kids dance, one of the athletes approached me. She told me this was her first time out of the country. Then she showed me every single picture that she took on her digital camera. And her favorite picture was the picture of the American flag that had been presented; in the background hung the Canadian flag. It was awesome. She was so sweet.
Then on Monday my cloggers, and of course then the Irish dancers, performed at the Special Olympics Festival downtown. The volunteers were so nice. So helpful. But the best part was watching the athletes clap to the music. At the end of the clogging show I waved at the audience and an Asian athlete smiled and waved back at me. He kept waving and smiling, so I did the only thing I could. I waved and smiled back. That's why I dance. I love it when I can see the real human side of the audience. And these Special Olympic Athletes are so genuine, so real.
My youngest daughter, a tiny blondie, attracted the attention of another Asian athlete who had to touch her hair and face. She was mesmerized by my daughter. My eight year old son thought he was in heaven when he managed to win a game of air hockey with an athlete more that twice his age. It wasn't about disabilities, my son didn't think he was going to win, it was about the pure interaction, the kind we don't see very often, the kind where one spirit can feel the other's.
I know there hasn't been as much coverage on the Special Olympics as they would have liked. Even though we have busloads of coaches and athletes who have streamed in from around the world, so many people seem completely unaware of the miracle of these amazing people.


Synergy Girl said...

I think it is so great that you are so involved. Our ward was asking for volunteers to host a family. I wished that I could, but with the schedules, rules, and regulations, I could not. This is something that I hope to do in the future. The testimonies that I have heard inspire me, and I would love a closer look!!

Laura said...

I think hosting athletes and coaches would be amazing. I know a lot of people opened their hearts and homes. There are so many ways to get involved, and the sports are free to watch. Ice Skating at the QWest by the Boise Centre on the Grove- today's the last day...