The Ones Who Inspire Me

TFR image - Marlyn Antonio

SONM Athlete Marilyn Antonio

A few days ago we celebrated the life of Special Olympics San Juan County athlete Marilyn Antonio.  She died unexpectly of a heart attack.  One of her teammates, Ryan Hanson, and her foster brother gave the eulogy.  Their words spoke beautifully of Marilyn’s life and a unique gift she used often – the gift of bringing people together regardless of ethnicity, age, or walk of life. 

The same day I attended Marilyn’s funeral, I also participated in a summer school class at the Albuquerque Academy, where four of our Special Olympics athletes gave short presentations on the word “retarded.”  Marla Gavurnik shared these words with the class.  “Mental retardation causes me to learn, to communicate, to understand things, and to take care of myself at a slower pace.”

When I laid my head down that night, I gave thought to the fullness of the day and what I had learned.  Like Marilyn, we won’t get to choose when we leave this earth, but her life was a good reminder that we do have control of what contribution we will make to each day.  Our God-given gifts will only make a difference to those around us if like Marilyn did, we share them. 

TFR image - Marla Gavornik

SONM Athlete Marla Gavurnik

And, although I didn’t come into this world diagnosed with mental retardation like Marla, her words spoke to a need that  I think many of us  have felt lately – the need to roll at a slower pace, so we are able to do a better job of learning, communicating, understanding, and taking care of ourselves.

The new Special Olympics marketing communication campaign is Be A Fan.  At the end of this day, I was fully a fan of inspiration, but even more, a huge fan of the two who had inspired me.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Ones Who Inspire Me

  1. KellyL

    Thank you for today’s blog. James said he remembers Marilyn. And, I’m sure he does – he has a great memory. Our love and prayers go out to Marilyn’s family and friends.
    Also, it is true that living life at a slower pace helps us live better. Summer is such a blessed time to take it easy (no school) and enjoy swim and golf practices with our teammates. Thank you SONM!!!

  2. Charmaine Cook

    I remember meeting Marilyn and seeing her at the Olympic Village every year for as long as I’ve been volunteering through Duke City Civitan. I am saddened by the news of her passing, and I feel a personal loss in knowing that I won’t see her at the Summer Games next year. The athletes I meet generously share their easy laughter and sincere smiles, and accept me without qualification just because I’m there. Nowhere else are the gifts of acceptance and humility so lovingly and freely offered. My condolences to Marilyn’s family, teammates and friends. Thank you for sharing Marilyn with all of us.

  3. Vanessa Boushee

    beautifully spoken

  4. Connie Schulz

    Thank you, Randy. Marilyn’s spirit lives on!

  5. Jacque Daniels

    I was so blessed about 4 years ago when Marilyn adopted me. She called me Mom. My heart hurts everyday. I miss her so much. But the joy I have from all the wonderful memories from her will live on forever. My entire family took her in and she became our little girl. I thank Marilyn for introducing me to the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics is what she lived for. I now have a great big family with all the people from San Juan County Special Olympics. They have been so wonderful to me and my family in our time of loss. Now I hope to repay them by continuing to be there for them as a coach, partner or volunteer.
    Thank You All!!!

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