We just returned from a trip to the Special Olympics to support my cousin. That is why we went, but it not why we’ll be going again every year possible. Turns out, that’s one of the funnest weekends our family has ever had. Hundreds of athletes, and make no mistake, many were amazingly athletic…meeting up to showcase their spirit and skill.
I was struck by the knowledge that out in everyday society many of these delegates might be stared at, misunderstood, labeled. Here? They were honored and valued guests. The heroes. They were loved, encouraged, and the givers of great inspiration. Each person was recognized not for their disability, but their ability. Allison, 100 meter walker. Chris, Shot Put Thrower. Sarah, Gymnast. It was beautiful.
As the athletes were awarded their medals, fierce applause rang out, often by the athletes. For themselves and for each other. Professional photographers snapping away. The experience was truly amazing.
And the Victory Dance, whew…do those Olympians know how to party! A DJ spun the crowd into a frenzy with the funkiest dance music imaginable. I have experienced countless fun things in my life, but this dance had to rate in the top 5. There was no way NOT to join in the fun. Every person dancing in their own way, without regard to self-image or rhythm. Even my decisively NON dancing family members boogied the night away. The energy was palpable.
When we were leaving my girls were hurriedly exchanging phone numbers and emails with their new friends. Genuine, solid, new friendships. They animatedly talked the whole way home about next year, every year after that how we had to come…how we could get involved in our own state…how wonderful each person on our team was. It was heartfelt. So next June, if you want to join us and get to know these Special Olympians, make sure you stay for the Victory Dance. Don’t let the party train leave without you…