Monday, June 26, 2017

Why Can't We Be Friends

Pervasive Parenting
By Kodey Toney
Why Can’t We Be Friends
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Oklahoma Special Olympics Summer Games. While this was my first trip I had heard from so many that it was an amazing experience. They were not wrong. It was something that I hope I have a chance to attend many more times throughout the years.
We got involved in Special Olympics a couple years ago when we were looking for something for Konner to do to get him out of the house and away from the electronics. My wife, Jennifer, entered him into the soccer program with the Poteau Special Olympics. Tanna and Randy Weaver, along with Barbara Leonard, were so good to him and made sure that he was taken care of while on and off the field. We saw their compassion for the athletes, and we also saw our first glimpse into what it was like to be involved in Special Olympics. All of the athletes were competitive, but also very supportive of one another.
Jen has many students at her school that she thought would benefit from Special Olympics and decided that she wanted to start one in Panama. She talked to the Weavers and they were super supportive of the decision. In fact they have been with us (I say us, Jen is the boss, I’m just here for support as an assistant coach) through everything so far to help with paperwork, and even gave great advice during our first trip to the State Games.
Jen worked hard with the athletes to get them prepared for track and field events as well as bocce, although I had to figure out bocce.
A few short months later we were on our way to our first State Games with five Panama Olympiads. It was a great trip even though the weather didn’t cooperate with us, and we didn’t get to compete in the running competition.
We came home with two gold medals, one silver (Konner), a fifth and a sixth place ribbon in the softball throw competition.
I was looking forward to the running because I know that all of our athletes would do well, but mother nature had other plans, and because of the storms they were cancelled.
However, one of the best displays of what this competition is about happened in the breezeway of the stadium when we were waiting for the rains to blow through. Most of the athletes, coaches and volunteers were herded together under the bleachers, and while waiting a group from Bartlesville had started playing a game where they sit in a circle, chant a rhyme, and clap hands in a circular motion. Everyone around started getting interested as those participating began to get into the game. They became louder and louder. Some of the other athletes asked if they could play, and soon we had members of teams from Bartlesville, Mustang, and Panama all playing along. They were making friends and supporting each other. This is what it is all about. There were many fun times and memories made through the three-day event, but this may be my favorite.

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