I wanted to share two great stories about the Special Olympics experience for athletes. The first is a video about Geno, a baseball and basketball player from Special Olympics Miami. (Story from Nick Maslow).
This second story comes from an email sent by Ashley, a Special Olympics Virginia athlete. Ashley provides a powerful look at bullying in schools and how Special Olympics helped her learn to standup for herself. Make sure to read her inspirational writing.
“In my last writing I had written quite a bit about the R-word and the effect that it has on Special Olympics athletes and the truth of the matter is that it has a negative effect on anyone who has been called a “retard.” It seems that no matter how hard we try to improve our lives it just seems that something happens or someone says that word and it just sets us back to where we were before. A majority of my friends have been called that and it upsets me because we try so hard to fit into society and no matter what we do or what we say it does not seem to make a difference. I realize that it’s not like that everywhere because even though we have a disability we try and make something positive out of our lives. Whenever a Global Messenger walks into a school or a workplace and they tell their stories about their lives and what Special Olympics has meant to them it’s amazing that they have everyone’s attention but the minute that it’s over and we leave I want to believe that what we said sunk in and that they stick up for themselves and for someone who is being teased for being different or not in the right crowd.
For me personally Special Olympics has had a life altering effect on me but there are still times where I feel alone and empty and the minute that I go to a game whether I am playing in or someone I know is playing it always cheers me up but my past still haunts me to this day and I know that it shouldn’t but it does. I don’t remember if it was recent but I went to a media training and the topic that they interviewed was about bullying and I don’t remember all of the questions but I can honestly say that they were hard to answer because it brought back quite a few memories and plus my mother was there and she heard how hard it was for me to go to school every day and the nightmare that I had to face day after day. I thought that once my schooling was done that I would enjoy life but the effect kept going and I had to reveal what it almost led to and that was that I thought about ending that pain. It’s hard to live life to the fullest when you are constantly reminded day after day what a harsh world that we live in and the scary part is that it is much worse and the bullying and teasing are leading kids to take their own lives. I guess you could say that becoming a Global Messenger was my calling because I want to stand up for people with disabilities so they don’t have to go through the same torment that I did and still is. I have met numerous people in Special Olympics as well as Best Buddies who I have grown quite close to because they see me as a person and not someone who has a disability. I think that I speak for every athlete that without Special Olympics giving us courage and accepting us for who we are that none of us could ever thank the volunteers who spend so many hours to all the athletes and making them feel special because each one of us is in our own way. I am happy to be a part of Special Olympics and I look forward to many more years to come.” –Ashley, Special Olympics Virginia