This year, the Special Olympic Games celebrate 50 years and I was lucky enough to attend the opening ceremony.
Full disclosure: I have volunteered with the Special Olympics in the past, and both my younger brothers have participated in the organization.
The event was an amazing display of support for the differently-abled community, with performances by Marshmello, Alan Stone and Kyla Jade.
However, I personally felt the best the best moments came when fellow athletes dropped the emphasis on the Olympians “limitations” and spoke to them simply as fellow athletes.
Special Olympics athletes are amazing differently-abled warriors, but first and foremost they are incredible athletes.
The principles of inclusivity and hope that underpin the Special Olympics enhance this amazing organization but let us not forget that the individuals participating are not just ambassadors for the differently-abled community (which they are), but they are dedicated sportspersons who have worked long and hard in their crafts and have earned their place off the sidelines and in the arenas.
Eunice Shriver rightly picked the ancient gladiator code to be the motto of the Special Olympic Athletes: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”
They have my unending respect, and they deserve yours.
Play on, Olympic Warriors.