Every other year I take a handful of Special Olympics athletes to the legislative session in Santa Fe to serve as Honorary Pages for the House of Representatives. It’s a very interesting, educational, and unique experience – one that we count a privilege.
We go to thank Representative Henry “Kiki” Saavedra for the House Bill he introduced in the 1980’s, which continues to support the Special Olympics movement in New Mexico. We also go as ambassadors to keep our Legislators mindful of “our” families. And finally, we go because we can and we should.
It is a very busy and high energy time in the Roundhouse, yet interestingly every person we meet there is happy to drop what they are doing to spend time with us. I have made it a point to watch their faces and observe what follows. They ask questions, give us lapel pins, take photos with us, and hug us like long-lost relatives. They eagerly leave their world and thank us repeatedly for visiting them.
I leave the day each year with this same thought. They know that who they are affects our lives and how important that is. What they don’t always know is who people with intellectual disabilities are and how important that is. Our athletes’ gift to this world is the affect they have on all of us. It’s our responsibility to ensure they have opportunities to share who they are.