A humbling experience with Special Olympians

Last night my wife and I ventured to the Army and Navy in Simcoe for Simcoe Special Olympics Annual Award Banquet. We were guests of our respite client; Ms. Savage whom we have been with since she was 7 years old (She is graduating from Holy Trinity this year too) so she has been in our life for a long time.

Ms. Savage and her family have emerged as part of our extended family over the years, as they come to our kids birthday celebrations and holidays and we to theirs as well. Ms. Savage herself is unable to speak, as she was born with some struggles many of us will never experience. But this does not limit her at all, she has her ‘unique demeanor’ as I call it but she to us is much, much more! She is Auntie Cyp to our kids, she is our constant reminder of people whom struggle with life’s everyday challenges but she is exploring and experiences all aspects of life just as we would everyday, she is a trooper and an inspiration in our family! Cyp was also part of our wedding day as she signed the Lord’s Prayer for everyone, this is how involved and embedded her family is with ours!

A struggle or difference is not something that sets people like Cyp away from us as ‘normal’ people its what makes them that much more extra-ordinary!! Its what sets them apart and way above us!

Last night while enjoying a fabulous dinner that the ladies auxiliary put on for the amazing citizens of Haldimand / Norfolk County I was amazed by the sheer dedication and commitment that these individuals put in their sport(s), in their relationships with each other, their mentors and also their families that came with them too. I was totally humbled to be part of the experience for a fifth consecutive year as a supporter and volunteer within Simcoe Special Olympics.

If you are ever around anyone of these amazing kids (I always say kids despite many being old enough to be my parents) because they all live life similar to kids; laughing, enjoying and experiencing every moment with a ‘glass half full mentality’, you will always feel loved, appreciated and honored. They are always positive, even those Leafs fans within their ranks too (now that’s tough!). They are the people who make our lives seem so insignificant as they face so many challenges within every aspect of daily life we personally take for granted!

Our Auntie Cyp, as our kids call her; cannot talk, but she signs to communicate which is by the way the most amazing language and culture in the world! I took two full credits on Sign as my language potion of my BA, and was lucky enough to meet many deaf individuals and be invited for weekly Tim Horton visits which were mind blowing! Its a truly unique and amazing culture that infuses the ‘language of sign’ into every aspect of their natural life.

My three little monsters; Xander (5 yrs), Callie and Abbie (3 yrs) can sign and understand the signs as well that Auntie Cyp conveys.

The ability for my wife and I to sign has come in handy at the ice rink, pool, park, shopping (ie; No treats today), with our kids. They know what are signing from meters away, talk about amazing behavior management tools eh?!?! I even use sign within the classroom too!

Anyways I was merging into something else, back to my humbling experience. As I sat and watched the awards yesterday I was amazed with the unconscious passion for life these beautiful people had as they high fived, knuckled and cheered each other on when they received awards. Despite their differences, challenges they are people just like us that have a culture within themselves that they rejoice in that they share and enabled us all to appreciate what we are as people too!

I have to do a quick shout out to Mr. Gordy, a Special Olympic athlete that has been in every single sport, events and this year completed the Special Olympic Coaching Course to coach his fellow Special Olympians! Talk about inspiring, this guy was my hero last night because he did not do the coarse for himself, he said he completed the coaching coarse to ensure that his friends would always have a coach if Special Olympics did not have enough volunteers! Can you believe that!?!? Talk about mind blowing, honorable and humbling!

To all the Mr. Gordy’s and Auntie Cyp’s out there – hats off to you! Keep doing what you all are doing, share your special moments with us all! It just proves to everyone out there that no matter what challenges life imposes on us we can and always will overcome them with help from our friends, family, coaches and mentors! It proves that the ‘inner spirit’ is much more powerful then any crime, infraction or catastrophic event the world throws at us!

So, what I want to share with my friends, colleagues and people around the world is find one of these incredible people within your community, and shake their hand go for a coffee and get to know them because you will truly find more out about yourself then you can even imagine!!

In June we will venture to Holy Trinity to celebrate Cyp’s High-School graduation along with her family and once again be flabbergasted in sheer amazement that in the face of so many challenges one can so overcome all odds and succeed with family support and the inner drive and spirit to do so!!

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