This past Thursday, April 5, I had the honor of accompanying Nate to the Special Olympics, Track & Field Event. Nate has not attended for several years now and we thought we'd give it our best. When his brother, Brandon, dropped us off, Nate jumped right out of the car and we happily walked hand-in-hand together. Nate came to right outside the track where his school was camped out and turned around and started running back toward the parking lot. I haven't seen Nate run in years so already the exercise was beginning (for both of us!). A few of the teachers (and it took a few) helped me bring Nate back. We had to do a whole bunch of sweet talking. Nate does not like crowds of people, new experiences or lots of noise and activity. I really wanted him to give it a try, for him to know he was safe and quite able to get through this. Had he escalated we would have had Brandon come pick us up but it wasn't necessary after all and Brandon was able to go on to his college classes for the day and return in time to help Nate in his last event. Once we were able to get Nate seated one of his teachers pulled out several books. Nate has always loved books. He loves to read and he loves to have someone read to him so we were able to create comfortable territory amidst all the activity.
Besides all the teachers, teachers' aids, parents and students there were many volunteers. At Nate's school they have a leadership class that spends time with the students in Nate's class on an individual basis. They are called "pals" and have brought much happiness to Nate during his school days. These pals helped prepare Nate for the Track & Field events by going on long walks together through the halls of the school, including up and down the stairs. In addition, they worked at throwing balls which was also one of Nate's events. Sometimes they all cook together and other times read. Nate has really responded well to this program and has become more interactive as a result. You can see them in their green shirts at the event.
Nate had a tremendous day at Special Olympics, accomplished a lot and walked out of there with confidence I haven't seen in years. Nate doesn't seem to have a competitive nature whatsoever but he was very proud of his medals and wore them throughout the weekend. In fact today he chose to wear them to school. Giant steps! What some people would consider baby steps are enormous for these kids and young adults and we celebrate every one of them along the way. What a gift, to be a parent to each of my two guys...Nate and Brandon. Following are a couple pictures from that day.
Nate with volunteer about to start 25 meter walk.
Nate coached by Brandon on his tennis ball throw.
You can see Nate wearing his medal from 25 meter walk.
On the back of some of the kids t-shirts was a great saying:
"God please let me win and if not, give me the courage and strength to finish."
Beautiful kids, beautiful day.
A real inspiration.