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Reflection: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”

“Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt” – Athlete’s oath for the Special Olympics

On Saturday, April 11, PLNU hosted the San Diego County Regional Special Olympics Track Meet. Being a junior transfer to PLNU, I had no idea what to expect of this day; I had heard only a few things about the Special Olympics from friends and teammates. But the amount of excitement I had prior to the event starting increased tremendously as the day progressed.

About two hours into the event was when I met the most kind and genuine competing athlete named Arturo Ramirez. You could tell by the eagerness in his warmup and the huge smile across his face that this day meant more to him than most of us could understand. Looking around at many of the other competitors and their assigned buddies/volunteers, you could really feel the joy, compassion and happiness of every person.

At each event, there were volunteers in charge of organizing the events and cheering the competitors on. Support was seen all around the occasion with a wide variety of friends and family. Arturo competed in four different events and every event was followed by an award ceremony where each competitor was awarded a medal based on their finishing efforts.

This was where I saw these athletes really light up. They were congratulated not only by other members of their school, but also by a squad of San Diego Police men and women. The amount of pride and joy these athletes had in displaying each medal that was won definitely became one of the major highlights their day.

Volunteering and being a part of the Special Olympics Track Meet this year was a blessing. Reflecting back on it, Arturo, and many of the other competitors that I was lucky to meet, did more for me than I believe I did for them. These beautiful and kind human beings gave me more joy than I could have ever asked for in only a few hours.

I am so proud of each and every competitor, not only for always giving their best efforts during each event, but for the amount of support and love they displayed for all the athletes from each competing school.

The mission statement of the Special Olympics Southern California is “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

With such admiration and appreciation, I believe all that was listed above in the mission statement was accomplished today and I am more than blessed and humbled to have been a part of such a great experience.