Alex has grown so much these last five years in the Special Olympics. She is confident, a bit daring and a GOOD sport. When Alex first started competing in the winter sports she was a snowshoer. She quickly progressed to skiing, and although she knew how to ski she was hesitant, always had a body part that hurt, had no endurance and hated to lose. It took lots of patience, tough love and real love to get Alex to where she is today.
I believe this was a perfect storm of events that helped Alex mature. Nature is a big part of this, Alex is developmentally delayed, not developmentally stagnant. She grows, learns and matures just like her “normal” peers just not as quickly. This is an important lesson in understanding Alex and others with down syndrome, delayed does not mean broken, it means slower. 18 had been a year of growth and maturity for Alex, a long awaited and very welcome milestone in her life.
Nurture is the other storm that took Alex to this level. Her coaches, her team mates and the oft repeated but never over repeated oath of the Special Olympics, “Let me win, but if I can not win, let me brave in the attempt” have all played a part in the development of Alex the athlete.
Cammi and Paul have been Alex’s coaches these past five years. They have battled through temper tantrums, bad sportsmanship and noncompliance. They have used the words of the oath, cajoled, pleaded and pushed Alex to compete and be a good sport. This has been difficult but I believe they have finally succeeded. We can not even begin to thank them.
This past weekend Alex competed, in what very well maybe her last winter Games in Colorado and she poured her heart into them. This included a spectacular wipe out as Alex let 'em fly to the finish line, a silver medal and a gold medal. She partied, spent the night out with her team and congratulated her fellow athletes, just like thousands of 18 year olds across the country. I am so proud.
But to me, the most important and rewarding part of the day was the constant smile on my beautiful daughter's face and the glow that invaded us all. Alex has grown, will continue to grow and will defy any expectations others have of people with down syndrome.