Here we go again! It’s that time of year when Our “Owlsome” Oakview Owls head out to show off their skills at spring Special Olympics! This year being particularly special as it’s the 50th Anniversary of the Special Olympic games! How exciting is that?!
That’s right Ad, it’s been 50 years since Eunice Kennedy Shriver (the sister of President John F. Kennedy) founded Special Olympics. With this was her amazing vision that individuals with intellectual disabilities were far more capable (I 1000% agree) in sports and physical activity than many experts believed possible. In 1968 she organized the first Special Olympics International Games in Chicago, Ill. A little interesting fact, six of the athletes who participated were from North Carolina.
Two years later in 1970, Special Olympics North Carolina would hold its first games with only 400 participants. It has since grown tremendously and has even been recognized globally as one of the largest Special Olympics programs in the WORLD! Ummmmmm well, that’s awesome Addie! Close to 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities participate in Special Olympics North Carolina each year and we are always excited and feel beyond blessed to be part of it.
With our shockingly orange owl shirts on, school banner made, we were ready to show off our skills! Let’s do this! Having been our third time attending the weather certainly didn’t disappoint. I promise you, Addie, it could be snowing the day before, but you better believe the day of it’s going to be blazing hot! (I’ll admit I’d much rather be hot than cold) Insert mommy going early to snatch up the premier shady tree spot right next to your event location – Check!
Here’s the thing about this event, for anyone in this type of environment it can be a sensory overload. The heat, swarms of people, noise, unfamiliar environment, it’s a lot. We were blessed that you started attending Special Olympics in your preschool years here in NC and having that exposure and time have been super helpful.
With the bus ride a success a few extra hands were requested in parading the track with our banner, so I happily jumped in. Let me tell you Ad, you’ve come a long way from laying on the pavement upset and crying! You, very matter of fact held my hand and walked the track – even flashed daddy (your paparazzi for the day) a smile as you walked past. Having been a veteran now at Special Olympics we knew your first obstacle was only moments away…waiting. Not exactly your forte.
We found our place on the track and proceeded to wait patiently for the banner judging to conclude and the national anthem to serenade us all. A little bit of sitting, a little bit of jumping everyone did great! But unfortunately, the wait wasn’t over just yet. It was time to head over to our shade tree where we would once again wait for our scheduled game time, but not before you yelled out, “I want Baffroom please!” Today you were in big girl panties, so we weren’t about to waste any time, are brisk walk turned into a run to make it without an accident. For the record Ad, I’d never been so happy to hear you say you needed the bathroom and we had more options than just a porta potty! No accidents = Success!
Now back to waiting.
Not being our first rodeo here, we came prepared with enough snacks, water and even bubbles to share. We enjoyed seeing old teachers and friends and with everyone was happy and fed our time had come – Let the games begin!
We walked out on the court and stood listening to directions for our first event. With you standing next to me I glanced down at you, there you were, calm, no tears, no meltdowns. This was not the same Addie from years past. You see Addie, life has this way of giving you moments when you realized just how far you’ve come and just how valuable patience, time and exposure truly are on this journey. You were doing great.
We jumped, skipped, ran, tossed bean bags and even gave it our best shot at target pitching – Still not exactly on par to be the first Detroit Tigers female pitcher but we’ll keep working at it ;)
Having completed all events like a champ and collected your participation ribbon it was time to cool down with some water and oranges before heading back as the proud Oakview Owl Champions you all were!
Patience, time and exposure, I’ll never forget this 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics where I saw firsthand just how valuable that all was. You continue to amaze us every day baby girl.
Great Job Ad!