I started this blog on August 26, 2009. I did not have much experience writing aside from massive papers in my college career and massive reports in my banking career. My goal was to maintain the blog through Alex’s participation in the National Special Olympic Games that were held July, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The actual event posts begin with First Stop - Denver.
But I could not stop after Lincoln, I became addicted to my vision to share Alex’s life as a high school teenager and now a young adult. I sincerely hope that our journey of love, life and down syndrome can help other families with young children with special needs embrace their journeys. We were given a gift and not by our choice, but it has changed us all for the better.
One major factor that has contributed to Alex’s growth has been participation in sports. When Alex first started in sports it was through “regular” programs, kids’ soccer, softball, karate and the flavor of the month. But as Alex got older and the kids (and parents) became more competitive, she was left behind and the early lessons of teamwork and sportsmanship were lost. Instead what emerged was a poor sport who would throw temper tantrums whenever she lost, or was excluded from playing.
Alex had to relearn that winning is not the goal, supporting your fellow athletes is what team means. These lessons of sportsmanship, camaraderie and friend-ship were not taught by a high school coach or a parent, Alex learned these lessons through the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics changed Alex’s life. She competes in a level playing field, and most importantly, Alex shines. She has become a leader on her team, and a role model to the younger athletes. The families have bonded, and we share stories, laugh and support our kids together. This did not happen in “regular” sports teams as Alex got older. Not only was Alex excluded, so was I.
But most significantly, Alex qualified in track and field as one of 26 athletes from Colorado to participate in the National Special Olympic Games. This is the opportunity of a life-time for most Special Olympians, to compete at the National level against athletes from all over the country. There is pageantry, pomp and circumstance at these events, and to us parents it was just like all Olympics.
As in all things Alex, this was not the end. Alex was recently chosen to represent the United States of America in the World Winter Special Olympic Games that will be held in South Korea in January, 2013. She is one of five athletes from Colorado and 150 from across the country. This did not surprise Alex, and only temporarily surprised me, nothing about Alex surprises me anymore.
I know without a doubt Alex will ski her hardest and win a medal or two in PyeongChang and once again she will grow and learn from the Special Olympics. She will shine and our world will be full of magic for those nine days in Asia.
I will continue to write and hopefully Alex’s story will help someone somewhere feel promise in theirs.
9/31 Book give-away
10/31 Book give-way: The Day that Rocked our World