As I sit here watching the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics USA Games with my husband, I’m reminded that in trying times such as these, there is still much good to be found.
50 years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, whose sister Rosemary who was born with an intellectual disability, founded the Special Olympics, where athletes with intellectual and other disabilities could compete in sports and be accepted for who they are.
When my husband and I got married, I took on the much-loved role of Aunt to a fabulous niece, and three terrific nephews, one of whom has Autism. Our nephew Aaron is almost 17 and has made great strides as he has grown. Our friends, Tom & Linda’s beautiful daughter Phoebe also has Autism, as does Stephen, the amazing son of my friend George, and his wife Andrea. I am honored to be a part of their world, and so glad they are a part of mine.
People with special needs are just like you and me. It may take them longer to perform a task , or reach a goal, but they never give up. I have met many individuals with special needs. Some are family, like my nephew, some are students at the school where I work as a paraprofessional, and some, the children of friends. Though they may come from different backgrounds, and have different challenges, they have one thing in common. The people with special needs who I have met are some of the the most loving people I have ever met. They accept everyone for who they are without judgement. We can learn a lot from them.
Acceptance. Every athlete in the Special Olympics is accepted for who they are and their accomplishments are celebrated . They are treated with love and respect, which we could use a lot more of these days. The Special Olympics truly are special .
The world of special needs is not something I ever expected to part of, but thanks to some amazing people and Special Olympics, it’s a world I’m very proud to be a part of.