It isn’t every day that we are given the opportunity to realize how blessed we truly are. The small and simple things that we take for granted are sometimes the biggest obstacles in others’ lives. Most of us go through life considering only our own hardships and fail to recognize that there are those around us who endure much more. July 29. 2015 we were given the opportunity to be enlightened by those around us who are so much stronger than we are. It was then we realized that we were surrounded daily by those whose struggles were real and infinitely more than we could comprehend.
The Special Olympic World Games were in beautiful Los Angeles, California this year and we were presented with what could possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend. We were ecstatic to be able to go and excited to witness so many special individuals overcome their disabilities and participate in such large events. As we arrived and began watching women’s basketball we quickly realized that the events were not at all what we had expected. As we watched them dunking the ball in warm ups we realized: Each person on the basketball court and participating in every other event we went to was a true ATHLETE. As individuals they were really, really GOOD.
Maybe that is something you knew already and if you did, that’s fantastic, but the majority of people don’t realize that simple truth. The individuals participating in these events, like the Olympics, have competed and worked their way up to the honor of participating in the World Games. This means they have practiced, struggled, cried, failed and then they have tried again just like every other athlete in the world. EXCEPT, they did it better. They did it better because while some may have had poor upbringings, low incomes and bad circumstances to fight. ALL had to fight the stigma others placed upon them as a result of their disability. They had to prove over and over again that they deserved a chance to succeed. They had to fight their own limitations and overcome them. The joy on their faces as they succeeded was beautiful. Completely inspiring.
Then we had a realization. An astounding and humbling realization. It wasn’t just the athletes of the Special Olympics that worked every day to overcome their limitations; to succeed despite their failures. It was every single individual we have worked with daily and the countless others we have not yet had an opportunity to. Each of these individuals get up every morning with the goal of bettering themselves and overcoming their obstacles. They even do it with a smile…most of the time. Regardless, each of them is braver and more committed than we are and we believe the same can be said for most in society. We don’t know how many people would continue trying if they spent their whole lives being told they would fail and we know even less who would be joyful while doing so. It gives us a whole new meaning to the phrase “God never gives us more than we can handle.” As we realize that their burden is heavier than ours because we could not bear it.