When I was 7 years old my mother dragged me to yet another “inspiring and enlightening event” as a young kid those words usually just get translated as ‘boring’. Little to my knowledge was this day going to be anything but boring and truly a life altering experience.
My mother was part of the committee to host the 1999 Special Olympics World Games held here in North Carolina. The day she was bringing me to was the first day of opening ceremonies. The morning was filled with visiting sponsor booths, learning about the games, interacting with international visitors, and most importantly meeting and interacting with the athletes. As a 7 year old I didn’t understand the nature of the games and found myself often jealous that I couldn’t compete or be part of this incredible fan fare. However, I quickly realized that the reason I wasn’t in the games is that all the other kids were extremely talented! The aspect of special needs or handicaps wasn’t the focus and honestly wasn’t discovered until my neighbor Kelly, who was born with down syndrome, met us there and gave me her own insight into what made this opportunity so special to her.
Kelly was a few years older than I was and this was not her first Special Olympics, however, it was the first time she was able to compete in the World Games. She introduced me to her friends, some of which were athletes as well, and some were there as fans and spectators to support their friends and family. The day continued and I met more inspiring people and their families, it was a day filled with love, joy, and a positivity I had yet experienced in my short life. From that experience my outlook on life changed, these young people who had such seemingly drastic odds against them came together from all over the world to compete; not against one another but together in the spirit of fun and competition.
Now I ask each of you to consider how your time, talents, and treasures could help bring this joy into the lives of countless athletes once again. Since that initial experience I have volunteered with the North Carolina games in different facets, most recently as a judge of the tennis competition. To witness this firsthand will undoubtedly change your outlook on your personal hardships and give a renewed appreciation for each day we have.
I ask that you consider donating to my fundraising page, which I have set up through FirstGiving. I also ask that if you do not have the resources to give financially that you highly consider donating your time to this incredible event. Whether you can donate $1 or can give 1 hour it makes an impact that is farther reaching than you would know.
Below is the link to the Volunteer Page! Give it a look and see if your schedule would work with any of the multiple different ways to get involved!
Thank you for taking time to read my story and please consider the lasting impacts that you could have on these truly Special athletes.