On Friday after work, myself and three of my teammates (Sea Gal Brittany, Allie, and Charlotte) departed the Virginia Mason Athletic Center to embark on our inspirational weekend. After we arrived in Wenatchee, we headed over to the convention center. As we walked in we were instantly greeted with warmth, lots of hugs, and even some surprise kisses! There was so much excitement in the room, you couldn't help but smile. We were able to mingle with the athletes before the opening ceremonies began, and then we lined up to lead the parade of athletes around the room and to their seats. Helping us lead all these wonderful athletes was Congressman Dave Reichert!
The next morning the four of us split into two groups so we could be involved in more events. Allie and I went to watch basketball, while Brittany and Charlotte went to speed skating. We were able to meet the athletes participating, hear their stories, take photos and sign posters. Then, the best part, we got to hand out skill awards! They had bronze, silver, and gold medals, as well as ribbons so that every competitor had the opportunity for their glory moment! After basketball, Allie and I went up to Mission Ridge where we put on our thick coats and trudged through the snow to watch the Alpine events. I have never had the opportunity to ski or snowboard, but even if I had, I don't know if I would be nearly as amazing as the athletes I saw competing. We got to hand out many well deserved awards at Mission Ridge, complete with the recognizable Olympic Anthem in the background.
That evening, we went to join everyone at what is said to be the most anticipated social event of the year, the BIG dance! We started by signing our poster cards and taking photos. The theme of the night was red, white and blue. It was so fun to see all of the outfits people put together to show their American pride. Afterward, we started one of the longest conga lines I have ever seen, with the three police officers that were also helping out over the weekend. The music was loud, the dancing was crazy, and we had fun rocking out with the athletes!
The next morning, our last day at the Special Olympics, Allie and I went to Leavenworth (one of the my favorite places in Washington) to watch cross country skiing and hand out awards. We made lots of friends over the weekend, but especially on this day. We even got to dance in the snow to the Cha Cha Slide!
At every event over the weekend there was a large range of ages, young and old. Regardless of age, I was blown away by the talent and athleticism that every participant possessed. Most of all, I was impressed by their positive attitudes, motivation and sheer happiness. Many dreams were achieved this past weekend and I feel so fortunate to have been a part of it. I hope that in the future I will get to be involved with Special Olympics Washington again in some way, shape or form. I am truly inspired by all of the selfless volunteers, coaches, and most of all by each and every Olympian.