Skip to main content

Kingdom of God in Bojangles Coliseum

The pastor at our family's church, Sara Ilderton, attended the Special Olympics Opening Ceremonies on Tuesday. It was her first time attending, and the experience was quite more than she had bargained for. Pastor Sara writes a blog, and I have re-posted this with her permission, and added the photos to give a visual to her story.  

She has captured on "paper" what many of us felt.

About a minute-and-a-half after the athletes started coming in, I wanted to knock Ethan out…He’s our Minister of Youth & Families.

He was standing right beside me, and his constant “whoop-whooping” poured down on me from his 6’2” height and echoed throughout the entirety of the Bojangles Coliseum.

A bunch of us from the church went to support Ben – St. Luke’s own  Special Olympian (check out eSpeciallyBen).

Anyhow, Ethan’s excitement and enthusiasm were, quite honestly, more than a little annoying – at least at first.

I’m fairly certain that every person there could hear him…which, of course, was the point.

 He made sure that every Special Olympian processing during the Opening Ceremony on Tuesday knew that they were supported, respected, seen, and cheered for. And before long everyone around, including me, took up his cause – whooping and whistling and shouting and waving for every single athlete (all 1,200 + of them) – like a bunch of crazy, star-struck fans just hoping that one of the athletes might look our way!

At one point, I realized that I was laughing out-loud at the same time that tears were rolling down my cheeks…

And I know this sounds a little “hallmark-ish,” but I was experiencing (if that’s the right word), or sitting in the middle of, or being overwhelmed by irresistible and inexplicable joy (truly, truly inexplicable – so, please forgive this feeble attempt at making it explicable)!

There, right before my eyes, the Kingdom of God took shape in Bojangles Coliseum.
There, the world was turned upside down.
There, the ones society calls the least and last, were now the first - the heroes and stars and champions.

And we just wanted to be part of it! The love and joy and excitement were palpable.

There was not the slightest hint of misplaced sympathy or condescension in the air – not one utterance of  “that poor child,” not a single insinuation of pity.

There was just Ethan (who recognized the Kingdom faster than I did) jumping up and down, waiving furiously, whooping until we all could not keep from joining in – celebrating the love and the joy and the inclusion of us all together in the presence of the Kingdom.

To see this post and others by Pastor Sara, go to: Kingdom of God in Bojangles Coliseum

Photo credit belongs to Terry Cheville, Sunday School teacher and photographer extraordinaire at St. Luke's.


  1. I love it, so true. Our youth group used to volunteer at the Special Olympics in Maine, and I loved working with the Olympians! I wish I could have been there to support Ben. I could have brought Rufio to give him a wet kiss for a job well-done. =)


Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. If you wish to contact me directly, please let me know and I will email you.

Popular posts from this blog

Catching up with Ben

  I wish I had more time to write on eSpeciallyBen . Ben teaches us lessons on a regular basis: Smile often, give hugs, sit down and savor the moment, grab someone's hand to let them know you care and laugh with abandon–even if it annoys your brother. Ben will be 18 this summer. He attends high school in-person and enjoys seeing his classmates and teachers each day. In the photo above, it's 6 a.m. and he's can't wait to get on the bus. As for most people, the pandemic has been tough. Ben's in-person activities, camps and programs were canceled. He's happy to see grandma when we met on a Charlotte greenway or park. Ben seeks out social interactions and being quarantined away from friends and family was even more difficult because he didn't understand why. Ben's teacher sends me photos of him throughout the week. They just finished a rousing game of catch here.  Thank you for following eSpeciallyBen. If you want to see what I'm working on now, find me

A Lesson on Supplemental Security Income

In October, I received a letter from Social Security Administration saying that Ben no longer qualified for SSI AND we owed a very large over payment for two years of SSI that Ben did receive. The letter showed that we owned two of the same car. I knew this was wrong and immediately wrote a letter. I thought it was a computer glitch. Over the past five months, I have met with Social Security, spoke with several people over the phone and wrote countless letters providing documentation to show the cars we actually owned and filed appeals for the decision to revoke Ben's SSI during the two year period they think we owned these two cars. Tomorrow I have another meeting. I am hoping we can get this straightened out. This situation has caused a lot of stress for us and has taken a tremendous amount of our time trying to unravel the problem. I have not written a post in almost a month, partially because my brain power has been consumed with this issue and the bathroom saga (qualifies

Parenting an Adult Child with Disabilities: Talking About the Future

Ben in the middle with Dad (left), Carla Payne with Aging Care Matters and Mom This is the first of several posts about parenting an adult child with a disability. Ben will be 19 this summer; I am learning along the way. As always, I hope to pass on resources and wisdom. Discuss the future.  If your adult child is able to participate in planning for their future, ask them how they envision it. Let them draw a picture. Ask them to tell you a story. Maybe they can sign a few words that mean a lot to them. Find a way to get them involved. How do they see themselves living? By themselves, in a group home, with another family or with a sibling? Where do they want to live? In another city, in an apartment, in a house? How far away do they want to live from family? What level of independence can they handle? Do they want someone to check in on them? Do they want to find a job? Do they need a job coach or supportive employment? Who will help them with their finances? Is there someone they tru