The World Games ended two weeks ago, but the truth is it still feels like they are going on. We are still telling stories, doing interviews, watching highlights on ESPN, and re-living the many moments that make all of us proud of every Special Olympics athlete who was there.
As you may or may not know, New Mexico sent two rhythmic gymnasts, and a Unified Golf Team, made up of Special Olympics athlete Matthew Scates and his Unified Partner, Todd Phillips. I have chosen to share an email we received from Todd, mainly because his thoughts say a lot about the World Games experience from a non-disabled athlete, who competed in these amazing Games.
“The last two weeks were a blessing to me. After Matt and I were chosen for the World Games, we both felt we had something to prove – and we did. Matt spent all of his offseason preparing for this moment. I spent mine repairing a shoulder and a knee, with one much larger goal in mind….to have a medal placed around our neck. Our preparation was tiring, yet exciting, and as we expected, the World Games competition was intense. The pairings were awesome and the comradery elevating. Matt and I met as many people as we could, walked with athletes from countries near and far, took selfies with anyone brave enough to join us, and truly enjoyed the beautiful international flavor of these Games.
I am so truly proud of my friendship with Matt, his determination and drive, and his humor and genuine kindness. We spent two weeks together, side-by-side, and I learned even more of the giant heart he carries. During competition we were as fierce and as funny as we needed to be – as passionate and genuine as we always are.
If ever you get the chance to participate, never turn it down. It will change you, forever.”
And by the way – they brought home a Bronze.