Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Special Olympics 2012

Logan and Sean were part of Ben's cheering section.
Today, Ben participated for the first time as an athlete in our county's Special Olympics. For 29 years, these games have been held at a local private school. They shut the school down for three days and the high school students serve as the hosts and buddies for this event.

Probably the best thing I saw this year was the athletes running toward the finish line, but slowing down to take in all the cheering from the crowd. These athletes will remember the clapping, yelling and support - reminding us all that the gold, silver and bronze medals hold little next to a roaring crowd that is there just for you.

For Ben, the Special Olympics is like Old Home Week. He saw past classmates, teachers, assistants and physical therapists. Every time I turned around he was in the midst of a huge hug. Ben enjoyed the excitement and energy of the event.

Emotions run high for me at an event like this. Mostly my tears come from pride for the athletes and for what they accomplish each day. The determination in their eyes and smiles on their face would melt an iceberg.  There is a lot of love surrounding those fields as the volunteers, coaches and teachers work to make something like this happen.

I could not suppress my sadness when I saw Ben O. He is Donna's son - I spoke to him and reminded him he went to school with Ben many years ago. That hurt is still raw for me and I have not worked out the emotions I feel about Ben losing his mom.

Our county Special Olympics is a chaotic, exciting and busy ordeal. Over the years, the planners have developed a way to be flexible with the schedule, the athletes and events. It works for this group - gets the job done and keeps the real focus in mind - the heart. Whether you are out there running in a race or clapping for the athletes, you are certainly working it.

Remember Where's Waldo? This is Where's Ben?

This is a 100m Race. (Ben is not in this race.)

Ready, Set, Go!
See his determination. He did an awesome job of going straight toward the finish line.
Ben took the Silver Medal!

Ben with his buddies - it took three to keep Ben in check!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eating Out of His Hands

Freeloader

This little guy went from Logan's back to Sean's head to Ben's wheelchair. I panicked when it was on Ben's chair, especially when it kept moving closer to Ben's body. This freeloader would quickly become snack in the hands of Ben. Mysteriously, another one of these lizards on our front porch scurries around without a tail.

Logan saved the day with stealth maneuvers. Lizard went on his way to live another day.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Kicks


Finally they designed a cool looking orthotic shoe.
These are made by Keeping Pace - they look great and are super easy to put on over Ben's braces.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Before the Hunt



Don't be fooled by the photos, Ben had minimal participation with the eggs and dye. Easily smushed objects and colorful liquids are not put within Ben's reach without maximum support from me. I gave him one opportunity to try it out and he did fine. I wasn't going to push my luck - we were at a friend's home and so far, all had gone well on this playdate.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Get the Puck Out of Here


When I ordered our tickets for the Charlotte Checkers Hockey game, it was on a whim. Spring Break was coming up, and I wanted to plan something special for the kids. The ticket representative was helpful and generous. He gave us perfect seats - in a section for wheelchairs, close to the ice and goal. We saw a lot of action, and it kept the kids' attention. Although Ben had been to a hockey game when he was one, it was essentially a first time for all of them.

During the second period, a guy came up to me and asked if my boys wanted a tour of the team's locker room during the break. Yes they would! (and me too)

I don't know how these opportunities fall into our laps time and time again. Whether it is being at the right place at the right time, luck or my kids' very cute looks, I just don't know. We seem to walk into these great experiences more often than not. The kids don't get the importance of it all. They can't appreciate that these are once in a lifetime opportunities. I try to explain it, but to no avail. Perhaps when they are older and look back, they will understand.
Two players - Nicolas Blanchard and A.J. Jenks  led the tour. They answered our questions, showed us the different rooms for equipment, therapy and workouts. Each of our boys was given a frozen hockey puck to take home (they are frozen to cut down on friction on the ice). Sean licked his the rest of the night, trying to unfreeze it. Logan commented loudly about the locker room stench. Ben took it all in with his usual "I am above all of this" demeanor. I think Ryan and I were the only ones starstruck. I snuck in one of the photos, and Ryan was too nervous to get in one. Fun time had by all.

And if that was not enough, on our way out of the arena, Ben's teacher spotted us. It took Ben about 10 seconds to process who she was, but once he did, the happiness was visible - big smile and hug for her. What a night!

Did I mention we had just driven back from a day at the zoo a few hours before all this...



Monday, April 2, 2012

In Print

Check out this story I wrote for Charlotte Parent. In addition to their monthly publication, once a year, they publish a resource guide specifically for children with special needs. This link should get you to the site - Exceptional Child - April 2012. My story is on page 31.

Read my article and then be sure to check out the other ones. The edition has great information about iPads and other communication devices.