Shout out to 3.21
That doesn’t happen to me often, but it certainly did Friday night at the Spring State Games for the Minnesota Special Olympics. My eyes poured out what my mouth couldn’t say. For the last three years I have been involved as a cheer team coach for flag football teams, and this winter was my first foray into the world of basketball cheering for Special Olympics.
When I accepted my son’s plea to create as close to an experience that he had on his high school football team for the athletes with intellectual disabilities he was coaching, I was ecstatic to become involved. He wanted the works: cheerleaders, banners, and letters (if possible) from local high schools.
Once a cheerleader always a cheerleader . . . it’s like remembering how to ride a bike.
Glittery pompoms, choreographed dance routines, creating cheers, and pumping up the crowd are all fun experiences, but even these pale in comparison to the joy of working with all the amazing athletes, coaches, and families of Special Olympics.
The hoopla of March Madness doesn’t stand a chance compared to being brave in the attempt.
Friday night was no exception. The Spirit (isn’t that about the most perfect name ever) were playing full court basketball. An earlier loss in overtime knocked them out of one bracket, but certainly not down. Later playing for a chance at a medal, the game came down to the last few seconds, the teams having been back and forth tied most of the second half. A pull ahead basket and one successful free throw clinched the game.
My inability to speak came at the awards ceremony, when I heard that there was a special announcement. One of my football cheerleaders, who plays basketball in the winter, was handed the mic. Honestly I was expecting to learn of someone’s birthday.
I couldn’t have been more surprised.
A very special thank you was given to me for always being there to cheer them on and to the head coach of our delegation for all she does to make Special Olympics amazing in our community.
All I had to offer was tears.
I certainly don’t feel I hold a candle to the Coach M, considering she has 40+ years of volunteering compared to my three. It was a humbling honoring, serving as a reminder of what I preach to my own children.
Loving others goes a long way and you can never go wrong championing those around you.
Of all the places I volunteer, Special Olympics is one I hold most dear, capturing my heart each and every season. Some may only see the disability, which is regrettable, because behind outward appearances are some of the best displays of resilience, enthusiasm, dedication, athleticism, hard work, sportsmanship and grit.
While not every Special Olympian has Down’s Syndrome, there are plenty that do, including my special friend, C, whose words caught me off guard on Friday night. In honor of her and every other individual with 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, today I celebrate you on World Down’s Syndrome Day (3.21)!
Thank you for the amazing AWESOME you bring not only to my life, but to the world.
Your ability to shine as Down Right Perfect . . . takes my breath away!