My brother, Jonathan, is one of the most incredible people I know. Every year he participates in the Special Olympics of New Jersey's summer events. It is a weekend filled with a variety of competitions quite unlike that seen in most sports arenas across America.
Maybe it's because they all hold true to the following creed:
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." ~Special Olympics NJ
It began on Friday, June 8th, with Opening Ceremonies held at The College of New Jersey.
This is what the football field looked like when we got there:
After a little waiting, it transformed to this:
To help you better understand what waiting in the stands (on one of the hottest evenings so far this summer) looked like, I have a progression of three photos:
I love my family.
So, after wasting a lot of disc space taking wacky photos, the fun soon began. The athletes were led in by the Pipes and Drums of the NJ DOC and the Port Authority Police.
Who were then followed by streams of officers.
Over 2,000 athletes then filled the field grouped according to their county. This group in neon yellow is my particular favorite. My little cutie is near the end of the line.
Take a close look. I think he may have heard me screaming for him.
I had to get a shot of this group though. The girl to the bottom right depicts the attitude of every athlete who competes in the summer games.
Then the torch bearers came.
And the cauldron was lit.
As great as they are, these pictures can't truly convey the overall feeling of the weekend.
The Special Olympics gives us all a chance to be the best version of ourselves that we possibly can be.
At the Special Olympics you are surrounded by those who do this daily: the athletes. While the world might label them "intellectually disabled", these children and adults are happier and kinder than anyone I've ever met who is labeled "normal".
During the two days I spent at the Special Olympics, I found myself waiting a little more patiently. I walked a little prouder. I smiled a little more frequently. I cheered a little louder. I hugged those whose names I didn't even know and was more pleased with life than anywhere I've ever been on earth.