The media interviewing Special Olympics' staff asked why it is important for the community to support the athletes. In a three minute interview, it is hard to give the full answer. The quick reason is to show support to the athletes who have been working hard to participate and then compete in an event.
The longer answer to this question, according to me, is to raise awareness in the community about a group of people who get left out, but who desperately want to be a part of something. They want to be included, noticed, liked, asked to join, befriended and accepted. "They" are no different than you or I.
Filling the stands at the opening ceremonies with people who may be new to the Special Olympics organization and the population they serve may help people with intellectual disabilities be seen with athletic abilities, leadership qualities and communication skills. One friend took her two boys out of school to attend the opening ceremonies. The boys already asked to participate next year.
Why fill the stands for Special Olympics? Because it is just the beginning.
* Ben and I joined a team to walk the torch while it is passing through Charlotte, on its way to LA for the Special Olympic World Games. We only need $40 more to reach our goal of $100. The deadline for donations is May 20. Check out our page here: Special Olympics Torch Relay