Unexpected Conversations

by | July 30, 2013

Blog written by Dawn Nelson, Equinox Business Law Group

As we head into our fundraising season for Special Olympics I found myself having unexpected conversations with colleagues, associates and parents of special needs children and athletes. Conversations that don’t come around as often as one might think.

The fact remains that special needs are all around us, and if we could poll each person reading this article right now, we each could probably tell a story of someone we know who has a disability and had touched our lives. From the little girl born without her eyes, and the son who was diagnosed with autism, to the little ones not expected to live past a young age or learn to speak.  They each have a story that should be shared. It is through the sharing of each story that encouragement and knowledge is gained. Here is one that answers the question of why our organization gives to Special Olympics (SOWA).

3 years ago a little boy struggled with anxiety, and due to a series of events he found himself afraid to play on the basketball team that he had once loved. Over a series of weeks I watched him hide under the tables in the gym, hoping no one could see him, as he longingly watched his former team practice. This continued day after day and practice after practice, until he slowly began to come out from under the table. At first he would only stand and watch the players, but then the draw of the game became too overwhelming and he had to touch the ball. A month and a half later, he was standing, at the regional tournament, looking at his mother saying, “Mom, I just can’t do it. There are too many people.” But then the whistle blew. The game was beginning. Suddenly, he walked slowly onto the court as if no one was watching, and began to play. At first he would look up often and cringe as he saw eyes on him, but over the course of the next 25 minutes I watched something come alive in him. To those on the outside, they simply saw a 10 year old boy who would not speak and would hide under tables and chairs thinking no one could see him. To me, I saw the boy who just months before was in the hospital, hooked up with tubes and wires.  Here he was, overcoming his fears, heading forward in courage, and all because of his love of basketball.

Special Olympics enables children and adults with intellectual disabilities a place to learn, grow and play sports. It’s a place where encouragement and courage are paired with learning social skills and sportsmanship. It is a place where fear is present, but never allowed to stay. It is where mind and body say, “I can’t”, and courage rises from inside to say “I can!” This is why we choose to support SOWA.

As we head into the month ahead, I encourage you to listen to others stories and tell your own. Help spread the word about SOWA and maybe learn a thing or two about life along the way. Cheers!