For Chris and I, THIS photo summarized how we felt about the entire weekend of Special Olympics Summer Games events. THIS photo represented how proud we felt of BOTH of our children, because of the love and support that they have for each other. Colin did such a great job and Kailey was his biggest fan.
The day began in the Young Athlete Program tent where numerous volunteers were there to assist the athletes in participating in a variety of events. Last year, Colin didn't quite make it the entire hour the event went on for but we were really happy to see that he was interested and motivated to participate in many different activities lasting for almost the entire hour (that's pretty impressive for him!). What was really quite awesome was not only seeing how many volunteers were there but how INTERESTED and INVOLVED they all were in helping the athletes.
The volunteers ranged in age but we found a large majority of them to be high school aged and they were really great with the kids!
What's really great about the Special Olympics is that they promote unified events meaning that there are lots of activities for people of all abilities to participate together. It has been great because throughout the past year, Kailey has really been involved with Colin so they have been able to do it together.
We were really lucky because one of my really good friends' sister was one of the volunteers at the soccer station so she was able to play with Colin AND be his "buddy" for the future stars race. It was funny because when it was time for us to leave our athletes with their buddies, he took her hand, gave us a wave and basically said "see you later!". It doesn't hurt that she was a cute young girl too!
All in all, Colin was willing to try just about anything, even if he didn't last too long at a station.
One of THE CUTEST stations was the "weight lifting station". Colin and Kailey were hysterical watching them lift the barbells over their heads!
The kids had a really great time in the program and we were so grateful to all of the coaches and volunteers who made it such a fun time for the kids.
When the program was over, it was time to get ready for the Future Stars race on the track. We knew Colin was ready and looking forward to participating in that event and we had spent time showing him videos from last year so he knew what he would be doing. We even "practiced" around the house.
On our way over to the track, we took some time to cheer on some other competitors, get a "pre-race snack" in, and meet up family and friends.
When it was almost time for the race, Colin went with his buddy Destinee and the rest of us went to get ourselves ready to cheer on our "future star". We were ALL excited and Kailey couldn't wait to cheer on her big brother.
Then it was "on your mark, get set, GO!!!!!"
In watching all of the athletes in their respective "heats", a lot of them had these big smiles on their faces but OUR guy had one serious, determined look about him during his race.
What was even more great (which you can see at the end of the video), Colin swerves to go to one specific police officer at the end who has given Colin his medal in prior years. The man is a really great guy and has a son that participates in the race as well. We were so happy he was the one who "did the honors".
Colin's smiles came out at the end because he was SO PROUD of himself for earning his medal. WE were so proud of how great he did too!
Another really special moment was when we had gone over to the police officer to thank him again this year for giving Colin his medal and we were saying how great of a cheerleader Kailey was for her brother. The policeman had a nice little talk with Kailey and then presented her with her own medal. Her smile couldn't have gotten any bigger.
It's funny because for an event that lasted all of about 10 seconds from "start to finish", it has truly made a lasting memory that will stand out as one of the BEST days ever.
We are grateful to so many people for their love and support of Colin (and Kailey too!) and who were able to come and cheer on Colin for his race.
Aunt Kimmy and Matt,
and Aunt Beth and Uncle Jason,
In addition, there were so many other people who cheered Colin on that day as fans both in person and from afar! However, we would be remiss if we didn't send out a special thank you to the director of the Young Athlete Program, Andrea Moore, for all of her hard work throughout the year. She has truly made the Young Athletes an integral part of the Special Olympics!
We are also extremely grateful to Coach Greg (whom we have nicknamed "the child whisperer") because of his patience and hard work with the Young Athletes all year. He truly has a gift in what he is doing and we are so happy Colin has been able to work with him for as long as he has!
I think Chris and I will be riding on the "high" of this one for awhile as we were honored that our family was a part of a truly inspirational weekend. Thank you to the Special Olympics of NJ for putting on another amazing event!