Sunday, July 25, 2010

2010 USA Special Olympics Update

Driving down town in Lincoln to drop my boys off at their summer camp was all it took for my excitement to come back.  After seeing all the teams on Monday morning, walking on the UNL campus to their events, and driving by the Special Olympics town, I could not wait to experience more. 

On Tuesday Ben and I had some time before we could pick up the big boys, and the Basketball venue was on the way, so we stopped.  The game we saw was Men's Basketball.  Texas vs. Indiana.  I was surprised at how physical the game was.  We did not get to see the whole game, and I can not really remember who was even ahead, since we were cheering for both sides.  Every time a basket was made Ben would cheer and clap.  He was flirting with everyone.  I have never seen him quite so outgoing, practically lunging out of my arms to go to complete strangers.  It was as if he know he was in a place where he would be loved and accepted by everyone.  In the short half hour we were there I had10-15  people come up and talk to me about Ben.  We go out in public daily, and while I might get a comment every now and then, it was nothing like this.   People would walk by and say "There is a future gold medalist".  Others, I could tell, were Mom's of athletes, who were remembering back to the days when their child was a toddler.  But soon it was time to go.

After I got the boys, I had planned to take them to Bocce, but they really wanted to go to Special Olympics town.   Ben was in the stroller since it was a few blocks walk from the parking garage.  There were 3 blocks fenced off around Pershing Auditorium with lots of different tents outside.  Some had vendors, free crafts, karaoke, a sand sculptor, souvenirs and a misting station too.  The boys enjoyed getting misted.  It was fun to watch everyone.  I bought a T-shirt, John got a hat and Noah got sun glasses.  The boys made pinwheels for Ben.   We watched a few groups of athletes perform choreographed routines to music with flags. 
The Sand Sculpture

Funky looking blow up by the craft tent

Athlete performances

Then we went inside the auditorium.   That is where they had the Sports Experience.  They had 11 Wii games set up, pool tables, ping pong tables, a volley ball net, basket ball hoops, and a putting green. 
They boys had a blast and did not want to leave.  Poor little Ben however, was not as impressed he bolted when I tried to let him out, so I had to fight him back in the stroller.  It was just not safe for him to run around in there with so many sports and bigger people playing them.  But finally I was able to talk the big boys into going home.

Wednesday after work, the boys have Piano lessons and Ben had therapy, and by the time they were done, there were no events left to go see.  Thursday after work we planned to go again, but could not find anything still going on at 4:00 in the afternoon. 

The Special Olympic Torch
Friday night was the closing ceremony.  I called the radio station about 30 times and finally got thru to get tickets.  The closing ceremony was good, but very loud.  There were 3 or 4 singers, that I had never heard of that performed.  They were OK but not my type of music.  An hour and a half into the program, Noah was really not enjoying it.  He asked me for the 20th time if we could go home, so I looked over at Randy and both he and Ben were sitting there covering their ears, so I agreed it was time to go.  John could have stayed for the whole thing if we would have let him. 

Small Change

The Color Guard

Singing the National Anthem

As we were leaving I decided to use the restroom before the long drive home.  While they were waiting, Randy and the boys struck up a conversation with a couple of swimmers from Arkansas.  The lady gave Ben her Special Olympics Arkansas hat, and was trying to convince us that swimming should be the sport we help Ben get into.   She had won 4 or 5 gold medals in swimming this week.  I did not think fast enough to grab my camera and get a picture, or to get her name.  But is sure was nice to meet her and get to know here a little bit.  Made me feel much better about leaving the closing ceremonies early. 

While I am still not sure if Ben will want to pursue any sports in the future, I do feel that after our experience this week, I will not hesitate to help him get involved in Special Olympics.  It was a positive and uplifting time for all of us.