Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Story of the Reluctant Athlete and the Jubilant Olympian

If you want to make Ben mad, give him an activity that he sees no point in doing: make him throw a tennis ball to no one and then make him walk 10 meters in a particular direction that is not of his choosing. Ben participated in two events this year in the Track and Field Division of the Special Olympics Spring Games. He took silver for the walking event, and only threw the tennis ball when I stepped in to catch it.

In contrast, Matthew, the son of my freshman college roommate and good friend, Karen, reveled in the games. He took a Gold for the 100m run and exclaimed, "I did it!" while he was on the platform. Last year he walked, but this year, he stepped up his game and ran the entire race.

Matthew, 9 year old Olympic Gold Medalist

Each athlete is paired with a high school student at Charlotte Country Day School. This year, Jacob, helped Ben get to and from his events, participate in the crafty activities and maneuver around the crowds. Jacob, although just a freshman, was an amazing mature, talkative and engaged buddy. It was his first time with this responsibility in the Special Olympics, and he handled himself like a pro.

Charlotte Country Day School has been hosting these spring games for 31 years. All their students are involved on some level, from watching and cheering as an elementary student to being a buddy in early high school to planning events by the time they are seniors and juniors. The commitment the school has made to these games is obvious from the positive attitudes, happy faces and well organized events.

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