It was a joy to be a part of Special Olympics

Published 4:22 pm Friday, May 8, 2015

I was fortunate enough to be asked to serve as the torchbearer to signify the opening of the Special Olympics track and field event at Bainbridge High School Thursday morning. What a thrill this was, and I count it as one of the biggest honors and highlights of my career.
Once upon a time I was a decent athlete and the thought of running about half a lap carrying about a five-pound torch with a pretty decent flame atop would have caused no pause.
But, that was many years and many pounds ago. As it is, I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t trip or fall and had enough breath to speak after the run was over.
But with all the participants from Decatur and three surrounding counties, many volunteers and students in the crowd, the run was a breeze.
And, having Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, some of his deputies, several Bainbridge Public Safety officers, and several Georgia Highway Patrolmen running behind me, I had to make the short run without a hiccup.
The Special Olympics organizing committee does a fabulous job with the various events that allow these students and some adults to participate. Jim Beck has led the board as its chairman for the past six years, since its reemergence from several years of being dormant. Jim deserves a lot of credit for the success of the track and field event, the bowling events and the ever-popular Snowflake Ball.
Jim informed me before the event that he is stepping down as chairman and he deserves the community’s thanks for a job well done.
But, the real stars of any Special Olympics event are the competitors and participants. Those students competing in various track and field events Thursday morning were having the time of their lives. They competed for the joy of the competition and being around the other competitors. That’s the way it should be and it is so refreshing.
The official motto of the Special Olympics is this: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
I think we could all apply those principles to just about any aspect of our lives.
I have been fortunate enough to coach my own son, Judson, in recreational league baseball for the past five years and the last two in football.
Personally, I think each rec league coach and each parent of a rec league player should attend at least one Special Olympics event.
Yes, most times it’s more fun to win than lose, but what absolutely matters is the effort and attitude. Lots could be learned about how and why the athletes in the Special Olympics participate.
Thanks again to the organizing committee for the opportunity to serve as the torchbearer. It was a thrill that I will not soon forget.

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