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.
These stories describe our journey with Ben, our oldest son. Ben is a sweet and energetic redhead, born with a rare genetic mutation. My husband, Ryan, and I try to keep up with Ben and his two younger brothers. I intend to shed insight into raising a child with disabilities and pass on the wisdom we’ve earned over the past two decades.