Special Olympics Mission Statement:
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Zac and I spent part of our long holiday weekend on Friday at Central Oahu Regional Park volunteering with Special Olympics of Hawaii (SOHI). We spent Friday helping out with the softball tournament with a group of people from Zac's office. This is the second time Zac and I have helped out with SOHI softball, but this was our first time helping with the tee-ball tournament. I was put in charge of keeping the official score book, as I was the only one who knew how. (I'd like to point out that I was the only female in our group. Moral of the story: Dads who teach their daughters to keep book rule.) We also had a PA system set up so we could announce the players as they came up to bat. It was quite the production, and you could tell that the Olympians loved the big stage.
The weather was just perfect to spend a whole day outside. Fortunately SOHI had tents set up at each field so I didn't get fried by the sun. It was Lahaina Noon on Friday too, so the sun was pretty intense at mid-day. I have to say that all of the coaches were really well behaved. Last time we volunteered we had a couple of coaches that were much too competitive and belligerent. This year's teams and coaches were much more fun to work with. You could tell that while they all wanted to win, sportsmanship and trying their best was much more important to everyone. That, in and of itself, made it a great way to spend a day.
There were four teams in the tee-ball tournament, one from Oahu, one from Maui and two from the Big Island, so we had four games. All of the Olympians received medals for their participation. The medal ceremony is always a pretty big deal for the everyone involved. There is a CD of the Olympic Fanfare on a loop that we play while we call out each athlete and present them with their medals. As another long-time SOHI volunteer and I waited to present medals to the champions, she smiled at me and said, "Isn't this just great? Isn't this the best?" I looked out at the smiling and laughing Olympians, lined up on the field, waiting to hear their names called over the PA system. I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat. It was great. Mission (Statement) accomplished.