This Saturday close to 900 Special Olympics athletes will gather in bowling alleys across New Mexico for Area Competition.  Have you not attended – let me give you an idea of what it will be like.

The vast majority will get to the lanes early and will show up with so much anticipation it will be felt in the air.  There will be old friends from other towns – hugs and knuckle bumps, and one shared mission by each competitor – to find their lane.IMG_8685

Coaches will scurry, friends and family members will find their places, and then – a calm before the storm as they sit and wait.  For what will seem like forever, the Opening Ceremonies will finally begin with a welcome and a lot of joyful celebration for the opportunity to be there.  The Pledge, the Oath, the Torch, a thank you to everyone who made the day possible, and then those words the athletes came for – “LET THE GAMES BEGIN.”

It gets loud.  Sometimes really loud.  Pins will scatter, people will cheer, laughter will erupt – and the eyes of the athletes will focus on the scores posted on the monitors above.  In a short period of time everyone will feel really good just to be there.  If you are reading this thinking being “there” doesn’t really sound like a very big deal at all, well, it is and this is why.

“There” is where every single person is safe to be themselves.  “There” is where challenges and circumstances that make us feel all alone are always familiar to someone who has been there before us and is willing to help.  “There” is where hope is offered and joy and celebration can’t wait to happen.  “There” is where communities come together in service and leave reminded of the blessing that comes when we selflessly serve those whose needs are real.  “There” isn’t just a day at the bowling alley.  “There” is what will be talked about for days after and seen for years in lives transformed.  “There” is Special Olympics in your community – and “there” is where you are welcome, appreciated, and loved.

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