Sunday, April 17, 2011
Blue Ribbon Becky!
Saturday was the Big Day for Becky. She participated in the southern New Mexico regional Special Olympics held in Anthony, New Mexico.
It was such a perfect day for the games! Nice and sunny, but not too hot, we had one of the bluest skies I'd ever seen. Anthony, New Mexico is a very small town half-way between Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX. The high school where the games were held is out in the country surrounded by farms & ranches with horses & llamas on one side and fields of grapes & a winery on the other side. Flocks of ducks flew over the football field as I sat on the bleachers waiting for Becky's arrival. It was quite the picture of peace...like the calm before the storm of happy chaos.
Special Olympic athletes are a very happy, raucous bunch of people and their families and caregivers, coaches and organizers are easily infected with that same joy and uninhibited celebration. Nearly everyone has a big smile on their face and you hear laughing, squealing, and excited yelling in every direction. As I arrived, the walking race was going on. "Go! Faster!....Don't Run! Slow Down!....Go!" On the track, were about a dozen athletes wearing their team tee-shirts, walking as fast as they could...some of them almost breaking into a jog. As they got closer to the finish line, two of them were neck and neck. They finished the race in a tie and hugged each other in pure joy of having finished.
Becky arrived with her caregiver and was already squealing in excitement. She put on the bright turquoise tee-shirt like it was made of gold. She traded her sun hat for her "racing hat" and was ready! We found the staging area & she got acquainted with her competition...a lovely young lady named Lindsey. There are not many people in wheelchairs at the games. There were only 3 in motorized wheelchairs and 1 in a manual chair. One of the motorized wheelchair athletes competed alone in a timed race.
Becky's events were the 25 yard and 50 yard slaloms. She and Lindsey had to spin their chairs around once then take their chairs side to side, maneuvering cones set in their way, completing the slalom was another spin at the end. Becky was SO fast that I was fearful she would tip her chair! She had her chair on high speed and whipped around the cones like a crazy woman! When she was done, she had a very satisfied grin on her face. That grin got even bigger when I told her she scared me.
We made our way to the awards tent and her friends all greeted her with cheers and hugs. Her name was announced and ROTC officers pinned blue ribbons on her shirt. Becky was beaming. She had won first place in both events.
Her boyfriend, Robbie, and several of her other friends showed up to congratulate her & lots of laughing, squealing, and hugging went on. What joy, what pure unadulterated happiness and celebration they expressed! It's contagious and I'm glad I caught it.
Becky will go to Albuquerque with her friends, coaches and caregivers in May for the state Special Olympics. They will be held at the University of New Mexico football stadium. She will be a part of the opening and closing ceremonies, cheer for her friends during their events, complete her own events and then the best part....the Big Dance after the closing ceremonies. I never fail to shed many tears at the ceremonies. But the dance is particularly touching. It always makes me wish we could all enjoy life, enjoy each other, that much!