Monday, May 07, 2007
On Saturday I participated in something I have never done before: the Special Olympics. Mind you, I was a chaperone, not an athelete. But it was still a neat thing to participate in. The atheletes were really good at their events, and showed incredible courage and enthusiasm. If only I could apply that to my life these days…
It was great to take a break from the routine and spend some time with someone who really appreciated it. My athlete-buddy was a thirteen-year-old girl named Shakita (like the banana).
I’m not entirely sure what handicaps she was working with, but she seemed almost like any other thirteen-year-old girl, except she was excited to be spending the morning at the Special Olympics. She loved having me accompany her to her events, and brightened my morning with her charm. The morning started with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. There were representatives from all the local police departments, including a dog, the Flannel Queen and her attendents (I have no idea…), and the Knights of Columbus Color Guard. One of the athletes led the National Anthem (quite well, I might add), and then the games began. Shakita’s first event wasn’t until 11:30, though, so we spent the first two hours watching other events - swimming, gymnastics, and races. We ate a quick sack lunch around 11 and then headed to the field for her first event: the running long-jump. She competed very well and took first prize! I was so proud of her!
Next we went over to the softball pitch where she competed against five other girls (the same girls, in fact, against whom she long-jumped) in the softball throw. She didn’t do quite as well here, taking only third place. She told me it was the first time she had ever received third place, and wasn’t the medal pretty? I was proud of her good attitude (not to mention how well these girls threw the softball - way better than I would have done!). The girl who won, Michelle, was so happy, too. She was crying as she accepted her gold medal.
Finally Shakita competed in the 100-meter dash. She really wanted to win so that she could get a second gold medal, but said she’d be all right with second place too, because that would mean she got one medal of every color. In the end she did get second, and proudly showed everyone we met after that her three different medals.
By the end of the day I was tired (because we had to set up in preparation for the games, my day had started at 7), but I was sort of sad to see Shakita go. We had a lot of fun, and she charmed her way into my heart.