This past weekend was our 4th Special Olympics New Jersey Summer Games in which Colin competed and just like every other year, this one was filled with lots of inspiration. If you have never attended a Special Olympics event, I urge you to attend. You will never experience anything like it; athletes who compete giving all they have for the pure and genuine love of sport and competition.
Unfortunately, Chris was unable to attend the opening ceremonies this year, but the kids and I made our way out there after school, attended the VIP reception, and then met our fellow Young Athletes for their introduction to the night.
The whole evening is amazing, but watching the law enforcement officials parade in just before the athletes with the bag pipes leading the way always give me chills (and tears!).
The Young Athletes, "future stars", are the first introduction to the parade of athletes and they make their way around the field giving lots of high fives and waves to the crowd and law enforcement officials. This year we actually had to cut out a little bit early because the heat really got to Colin (as well as the guns that went off to start the parade) and it being past his bedtime, but the experience was still amazing nonetheless.
Saturday was Colin's day of competition. The Young Athlete Program was set up with a variety of sport stations in which the athletes rotated through with their designated group. Each athlete was paired with a buddy; we were lucky to again have our buddy Destinee as she is so good with Colin and Kailey!
After a few hours of "competition" for the Young Athletes, they made their way to the track with their buddies for the Future Stars Race. This race is a 25m race on the track in which law enforcement officials are waiting for them at the end with a medal for their hard work and efforts.
This is probably Colin's absolute favorite part of the games. He took his competition very seriously, got himself set on the line, stretched, and got in position to start the race. The best part about watching compete is seeing Kailey cheer so proudly for her big brother. Athletes of all levels of skill compete and there is nothing like seeing the smiles of all of our Young Athletes as they give their best effort (which comes in all shapes and sizes) to participate in the event.
It truly was another amazing year and we are so lucky to be involved in such a great event. We are so grateful to all of the SONJ staff for their hard work in setting up and running this event as well as to all of the volunteers who give of their time and love to support athletes like Colin.