I love track and field. Back when I was a young whippersnapper, track was my thang. I joined my first track club when I was nine and have been running like a serial killer was chasing me ever since. The field part of track and field came a bit later in life, but I loved it equally.
My specialty was the distance runs. I preferred the longer races so that it was just the thud of my heartbeat and the swoosh of my breathing as I chased my peers around the track. But I did sprints and relays too and shook sand out of my shorts from the long jump pits. I bounced on the high jump mat like I didn't have a spine and I failed repeatedly at shot put because of my puny upper arm strength and poor form.
But it didn't matter. I adored track and field. My favourite day was always the days I was on the field or the track, practicing or competing. Luckily for me, my children feel the same way about T&F. The competitive hunger for first places and gold medals lurks beneath their innocent exteriors, and like me, they take themselves way too seriously when they are out there, competing.
This year has been no different for Fric and Frac. They've competed, both with success and without. I've been there as often as possible to cheer them on and encourage them (by threatening to chase them around the track myself, while yelling their names as loud as possible), all the while reliving my own glory days.
And like every year, they roll their eyes at me and run a little faster because they aren't quite sure that I won't make good on my threats as I stand around waving my shiny silver pompoms and calling their name.
And like every year I've been a parent to a special needs child, I do my very best to find ways to include Jumbster in our love of competing. Jumby, though it may not be obvious, is every bit as competitive as his siblings and parents. If ever a kid was born to win, it was my son.
It's not always easy having him included in typical child activities. His physical and mental limitations sometimes seem insurmountable to the ones who don't know him well.
So I spend a lot of time modifying activities to ensure he is included because it's important to him, to me, to the children around him who aren't used to the realities of disabilities, that they see him and not his chair or his slumped body or his tight fists or slack jawed grin.
I want people to see the fire in my son's belly and the twinkle in his eyes as he rides like the win.
He may never win a gold medal or know the thrill of a win, but he knows what it feels to participate. That rush of joy one feels when one is simply included.
Perhaps this is why the Special Olympics is so special to me, and why I'm happy to be part of a paid sponsorship for Procter & Gamble’s Proud Sponsors of Moms program. Because this is an event that takes ordinary disabled folk and lets them shine. It gives the world a chance to see the fire in their bellies instead of the limitations imposed on them simply from being born different. It makes every participant a winner, even the person in last place, as Jumbster so often is.
Procter & Gamble has been a proud partner of Special Olympics for more than 31 years. P&G not only celebrates and supports the athletes, but also their moms, who ultimately want what every mom wants… to see their children have every opportunity they deserve.
So I'm here to remind you that for every person that becomes a fan of the Thank You Mom Facebook page and/or leaves a comment, Procter and Gamble will donate $1 to support Special Olympics Team USA’s journey to the World Summer Games in Athens – up to $250,000!
Jumby has his own track and field day fast approaching. I'm not exactly sure how it will work out but I do know I will be doing everything in my part to ensure that he is included in as many events as possible.
And you know I'll be out there swinging my shiny silver pompoms, cheering my little athlete on. Because that's how *I* roll.