So pleased to announce that my guest blog is featured today In Blog Z...
In my book, Life with Charley, I have a chapter titled “Everyone’s Arena.” It’s all about the Special Olympics.
Now. You may think the focus is on the athletes. And it is, as it should be. It’s their time. But there’s something else. I want to talk about coaches. And peer tutors. And volunteers. And heart. And smiles. And those who make it possible for our athletes to shine.
It’s heart that leaves a family and boards the bus with around 60 athletes, 20 coaches, and 20 peer tutors (and that’s just the bus from our area) seeing to their every need, both physically and emotionally.
It’s heart that guides and directs the athletes from event to event, pushing wheelchairs, monitoring, seeing to it that medications are taken on time, making sure they get their snacks, stay hydrated, wear sunscreen.
It’s heart that stands on the sidelines, cheering, yelling, “You can do it!”
It’s heart that’s been on the go all day, yet finds the energy to be that dance partner for that athlete who otherwise might sit this one out.
It’s heart that sends my Charley home with a smile like no other.
You see, these aren’t just ordinary hearts. These are heart warriors.
Warriors in charge of other hearts. Warriors that go out in search of smiles. Warriors that capture the very spirit of what it means to be a Special Olympian and the smiles that go with it.
Smiles like the one my son has when he arrives home.
Smiling is not unusual for him. It’s something that comes natural, like breathing. But this is a different smile.This is a smile that says, “I’ve got friends.”
“I’m one of them.”
“I am somebody.”
Yeah. That smile.
It’s a smile of knowing acceptance. Of being a star. Of knowing you’ve made it to the finish line. Of standing shoulder to shoulder with your teammates. Posing for the picture.
It’s a smile that’s heard the thunder of applause, and knowing it’s meant for you.
Each time my Charley comes home from the Special Olympics, tired, happy, proud, I say a silent prayer of thanks. For the Special Olympics that puts that smile on my son’s face. For the hearts that give it freely. For those who do what few others would do, reaching into the hearts of those Special Olympians and pulling out those time of your life smiles.
Today my husband and I stood in the parking lot and watched as the bus drove away. The bus that would deliver the most important person in our lives to the one place that could help him find that smile.
So today I want to turn the spotlight on those who make it possible.
Those who heart others.
Those who send our kids home with that smile.
I want these heart warriors to know that for those of us back home looking forward to that smile, rest assured. That smile belongs to them.
Sherry is holding a “Life with Charley Gratitude Giveaway.” To find out more about the contest, go to:
You can find out more about Sherry and Charley at:
Charley’s Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Life-with-Charley-and-Down-syndrome/514830105272710?ref=bookmarks
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Sherry-McCaulley-Palmer/e/B00OYYANFA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Sherry Palmer is the author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption.
About the book:
Step into the world of special needs parenting and catch a heartwarming glimpse of unconditional love.
Charley is funny, ridiculous, ornery, and charismatic. He also has Down syndrome, and Sherry Palmer thanks her stars each and every night for the blessing that is Charley. Sherry knew that her life would change drastically when she and her husband decided to adopt a baby boy with Down syndrome, and she knew they would struggle at times with his developmental challenges, with other peoples’ perceptions, and with their own emotions. What she didn't know was just how amazing their world would become once Charley was in their lives—and in their hearts.
What the couple wants is to be parents. Little do they know that adopting a baby with Down syndrome breaks all the rules.
What the family wants is to talk them out of it. Thus begins a phone-calling campaign of do-gooders warning of the pitfalls. Surely this couple has no idea what they are doing. Surely they realize it’s a lifetime choice. What these well-intentioned people don’t know is that it’s the chance of a lifetime.
What the church wants is a typical pastor’s family (The handsome pastor. The thin, perfect pastor’s wife. The well-behaved, well-mannered preacher’s kid). What they get is the polar opposite, and what they find out is that sometimes even church life can have its challenges.
From the unlikeliest of sources comes a powerful message that the key to true happiness is in just being yourself.
In the meantime, I'm excited to announce our Life With Charley Giveaway!
Announcing our "Life With Charley" Gratitude Giveaway!
Beginning today and ending May 30th you can enter to win one copy of "Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption," signed by Charley and me.
This Gratitude Giveaway is in honor of the teachers, coaches, peer tutors, and volunteers who have given so much of themselves to make my son happy.
In fact, at the time of this posting, they are on a bus on their way to the Special Olympics in Nashville. Rather than spending the weekend with their families, they are taking Charley and roughly 60 others to compete in the state games. Folks such as Gina Legg, Mike Sowards, Camryn Cupp, Nate Berryman, Skylar Gilliam, and Gabriel Boninoma. And that's just this trip! A host of others have taken their turns as well, such as Gerry Williams, and Yvette Dinger-Bennett, Miranda Williams, Jordan Childress, and Karri Byrd.
I'm naming those I know of who have worked with Charley's group. I know there are others. If I have missed your name it was not on purpose. There's no way I could name them all, and that's the point. There are many who have been so good to Charley and all of the Special Olympians on the state and local level. There's nothing Charley likes more, and Brad and I are incredibly grateful that he is included.
I'm so excited to have this chance to celebrate the Special Olympics with this Gratitude Giveaway.
I know our athletes are special, but this giveaway is all about gratitude for those who make the Special Olympics possible for our loved ones. Those who, as I write about in my book, make the Special Olympics "Everyone's Arena."
As the Special Olympics motto says, "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." It is these service-oriented volunteers who create the arena where everyone is a winner.
On behalf of my Special Olympian: Thank you.
Here's the link to sign up for the giveaway on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/138960-life-with-charley-a-memoir-of-down-syndrome-adoption
I will be re-running this post over the next couple of weeks along with pictures of the Special Olympics. Please share so we can honor these volunteers properly. Thanks!