Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014 Special Olympics NJ Summer Games: Part I (Opening Ceremonies)

This weekend, Colin participated in his THIRD Special Olympics of NJ Summer Games.  The event is a culmination of Special Olympic athletes working hard all year with their coaches and teammates and is truly an emotional and inspirational weekend.  We were really excited this year because we were invited to a reception prior to the beginning of the opening ceremonies and this year, the young athletes were walking in the parade with all of the other hundreds of athletes from counties all over NJ. 
 

The reception was a pretty neat experience and we got to listen to some speeches and watch awards presented to various athletes and other individuals.  One of the men that spoke is the director of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a group which fundraises millions of dollars for the Special Olympics of NJ.  In addition, I was so happy to be there this year as the president of the SONJ, Marc Edenzen, will actually be leaving to take a position with the International Special Olympic Committee.  I felt very emotional listening to all that Marc has accomplished in his many years of service for the SONJ, especially because we have truly felt a personal connection with him and his wife as Colin has gotten more and more involved throughout the years.   
 

Afterwards, Chris and Colin went to check in and then Kailey and I joined them in the reserved section for the families of the young athletes and waited in anticipation of the "parade" around the stadium". 


We ran into some of Colin's buddies, including Logan from his class at school.  We even made some new friends while we were there too. 



Chris and I had the opportunity to attend one other opening ceremonies before and it really is quite an experience that rivals not many other events we've been to.  The ceremony begins with bagpipers leading the parade out onto the field followed by a significant amount of law enforcement personnel in uniform. 
 
 


Then, the Young Athletes were announced and they began to parade around the field leading the entourage. 

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Chris said it was pretty neat because as they rounded the corner, the law enforcement officials were all lined up and Colin walked right down the line giving them all high-fives.  
 









(I didn't include a TON of the ones that Chris took of this line.)

The rest of the ceremony includes the parade of athletes, some speeches from various people, and then the lighting of the Olympic torch. 

 



We were so proud of Kailey because she was such a great supporter of her brother and did lots of cheering for him during the parade. 


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It truly was a GREAT night and we were so grateful to the Young Athlete Program director Andrea for including the Young Athletes this year.

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