Wednesday morning I told Clark and Phil I was taking them somewhere special and “You will like it.”
“Tell us. Where are we going?”
“I’m not telling you but I know you will like it. We’ll go after track practice.”
At 6:20 we left for our exciting adventure—the three of us, my two sons with fragile X and me. I was taking them to Shoreline Live!, an annual variety show featuring music and dance, written and performed by individuals with disabilities in the Creative Arts for Life class. Excitement mounted as we drove north and then it exploded into high fives, shouts and laughter when we finally entered the auditorium and Clark and Phil saw many of their peers sitting on the front row ready to perform. There were about 20-25 friends who also participate in Special Olympics and “teen club.” During the 1 ½ hours, the duration of the program, I thought about the eight months of weekly classes to get to this point. I thought about my gratitude for all those who patiently work with people like my sons. And I thought about how much more exciting and meaningful life is for all these participants who exuded confidence and enthusiasm. I thought about this again Saturday morning as I sat in the car in the parking lot by the field where Clark and Phil were practicing their running for the state Special Olympics track and field meet coming up this Saturday. I watched one of their teammates arrive late. He shuffled by my car so I watched him as he approached the speed bump, about four inches high. He paused and then hoisted himself up on top, another pause, and then down the other side. He eventually made it to the field where patient (and sometimes not-so-patient but always encouraging) volunteers coaxed him to walk faster. I think he was programmed for only one speed—but he kept going. I silently cheered for him as he came in last, waaaay last. I thought about all those on the team who could have been at home on a Saturday morning, probably watching television, but instead were outside getting lots of exercise and learning and relearning how to stay in their own lane and go faster.