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2015 Special Olympics World Games Viewing Party

Rowdy bunch at Kickstand Burger Bar.  When I realized we could watch the Opening Ceremony for the 2015 Special Olympics World Games on ESPN, I thought PARTY! Our state office for Special Olympics got on board and helped us promote the event at Kickstand Burger Bar. 40 of us attended - athletes, coaches, volunteers and families! We gave out prizes, cheered for the athletes and made new friends. A highlight for me was seeing one of Ben's former classmates from many years ago and finding out she and Ben will be in the same class for middle school. Ted and John. John is a two time Special Olympics World Games athlete. He ran the 1/2 marathon in New Haven and Dublin. Special Olympics launched a new program on the eve of the Opening Ceremony:  Change the Game . It is powerful, straight forward and comes at the right time. ESPN's coverage of the Special Olympic World Games is a first. Robin Roberts ' interviews of athletes is unprecedented. The athletes are get

When Therapy Moves

Ben sits in his favorite booth at the cafe.  During the summer we have the luxury of doing something different for therapy. We meet at local fun places like the coffee shop, library or kids' museums. Meeting somewhere new offers Ben a place to try out different skills with alternative toys and equipment choices. Ben tries to do some cooking in the cafe's kitchen Ben gets the ring off his head, but his attention is on the rock wall. The OT asked Ben if he wants to try it, but so far he is satisfied with watching. Ben crawls on all fours. Logan dons the body part vest and provides comic relief.

A Word from Joey

I have lost all sense of time, but I think Joey has been working with Ben for almost three years. He came to us after a string of horrible (I mean really scary) staff experiences. Joey came highly recommended by two different friends. It turned out I had met him a few years ago at a retreat. Joey is a man who wears many hats - traveler, writer, graduate student, youth pastor, caregiver, volunteer, delivery man and probably a few I have left out. Joey wrote this article for the  Baptist Pacifist Fellowship :  Crossing Borders: My Experience with People with Different Abilities . He tells a bit about Ben and also gives parents of typically developing children some tips for how to approach children with special needs.

Welcome Back Athletes!

Allison Douglas - Equestrian Four North Carolina Special Olympic athletes attended the 2015 World Games in LA. They competed against athletes from all around the world. Their medals acknowledge their victory in the games, but symbolize much more.  A group of us went to the airport to welcome the athletes back from the games. They were ready for hugs, photos and media interviews.  If you have free time to devote to a positive and uplifting activity, please read the articles below. The stories about the athletes and the programs are inspiring. Reader be aware, they are life-changing.  He Has More Courage Than Anyone Else World Games Adventure   Sam & Mattie Change the Game Starr Kluttz - Aquatics Katie Degnan - Tennis

12 Years of Wisdom

Ben turns 12 years old today. Our lives changed forever the day he was born. Ryan and I became parents to a wild redhead with more energy and determination than an entire village. Like most people who become parents, we knew we would instill in our child the valuable lessons needed for life. We had no idea that Ben would be the one to teach us. Here are Ben's words of wisdom: Manners, Please Every parent has to fight for their child at some point. Be thoughtful, thankful and thorough when advocating for your child. Just this morning, a friend started a Facebook post that used words that were derogatory toward people with special needs. After a moment's thought, I spoke to the person privately. This person had no idea they were being offensive and removed the post immediately. Without lessons learned through Ben, I would have approached the situation with anger, accusations and assumptions. Friends Give Hugs Often Ben reaches out to strangers to touch their hand. He

20 Years of Rainbow Express

I ran to the bathroom before the final event on the last day of Rainbow Express at Matthews United Methodist Church . Inside the bathroom, a girl was crying inside one of the stalls, "I don't want to leave. I want to know I can come back next week." The sadness in this girl's voice was so intense that I wanted to cry with her. Her counselor assured her that she could come back next year. Rainbow Express is a weeklong day camp for children with special needs. About 70 campers participate and they love every minute of it. Energy is high, activities are in abundance, hugs are infinite and a puppet show is promised every afternoon. After kids attend a year or two, it becomes a family reunion for everyone. The entire week is planned by the youth from the church with guidance from founder Laurie Little and other staff and volunteers. Each camper has a youth counselor and a buddy to help them through the activities of the week. The entire church community is committed

Midsummer's Tale

We are at the halfway mark for summer, and I think I can survive the rest of it. We have had fun visiting a lot of different places, many of which are accessible for wheelchairs, offer activities that Ben can do and are low to no cost. Fun places to visit: New River Trail State Park in Virginia Dan Nicholas Park Maggie Valley & Lake Januluska