The past few weeks have definitely been different. One of the differences is that I’ve had the chance to have more conversations than ever with Special Olympics athletes. Facebook posts, video chats, and phone calls have enabled me to hear from not only our athletes in New Mexico, but athletes from across the country and the world. The connection I have had with Special Olympics athletes has kept my heart full during days that have otherwise seemed a little empty.
Much has been shared during those conversations, but one statement that continues to bring a smile to my face was hearing one of our athletes say “Special Olympics is my Happy Thought.” That statement reminds me of the movie Hook, when Peter Pan is able to fly again after he finally finds and hangs onto his Happy Thought.
Special Olympics is the Happy Thought for our athletes for a lot of reasons. The joy of sports training and competition has moved them from the label of disabled to a label they embody and are proud of: ATHLETE.
For most of our athletes, Special Olympics is a different and welcome opportunity for growth and development compared to how they spend the rest of their time. It is the place where they find teammates who become close friends, coaches who help them become the best version of themselves, and where they have endless supporters: people who cheer loudly and embrace them.
Special Olympics athletes from around the world practice hard and compete with everything that is in them, and yet, they never get tired of Special Olympics; they are always happy to tell you what it means to them. Just like Peter Pan, when Special Olympics is the Happy Thought for our athletes and those who support them, we have the ability to not only fly, but soar.
Every single Special Olympics athlete has in their own way, expressed those same words.