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After an amazing 10 days in Greece celebrating Special Olympics athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011, I love being able to share fantastic and inspiring stories, like the one below. Kim Richards, who was in Greece supporting her daughter Katherine, a member of Team USA’s Volleyball team, tells the story of the unlikely support their team received during the first day of competitions:

“My husband and I traveled to Athens, Greece for the 2011 Special Olympics World Games.  Our daughter, Katherine was part of Team USA and played volleyball.  Athletes, parents and coaches were thrilled and honored to be part of such a spectacular and amazing event.

After months of practicing, the first day of competition was here.  Our team was ready and on the floor.  Parents, grandparents, siblings and friends began taking their seats.  We would be seen and heard!  Not long after we began chanting U.S.A., a group of what looked to be college students, also began shouting, “U.S.A.!”  We didn’t know them and why were they cheering for us?

I leaned over and asked one of the girls where they were from.  She replied, “Wheaton College in Chicago.”  After we formerly introduced ourselves, I asked her how they ended up here?

Carol told me the group of approximately 25 college students was traveling through Europe over the summer.  Today was their day off and they had chosen to watch a Special Olympics event.  Lucky us!

The cheering was nonstop throughout the entire match. If that wasn’t enough, some of the students had turned their shirts inside out and with red, white and blue markers spelled out U. S. A.  Big, proud and permanent!  One of the students asked me to write down each athlete’s name and number so they could call out to each of them as they served or made contact with the ball.  You get the picture, but in case you don’t, I have included a few.

I am not sure I can adequately express my heartfelt thanks to this group of young adults.  Having chosen to watch our athletes, instead of shopping or going to the beach, meant so much to our athletes and even more to the parents.

Welcome Wheaton College to the Special Olympics family!”

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