Four months ago, most of the residents of Wilmington, NC, had never heard of the Special Olympics’ “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign. As the proud parents of four children, two with Down Syndrome, we have always been advocates for the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, but needed a platform on which to stand to spread this message. This campaign gave us just that. We wrote and recorded a song called “It Starts With A Voice” and hosted a Benefit Concert in our town to raise funds as well as awareness for the campaign. In the months that have followed, we have seen a tremendous difference in our community. Not only have people pledged to stop using the “R-word”, they have made huge efforts to play unified and live unified. This is most evident in the deeds one of our local football teams, the Hoggard Vikings. Our son, Beau, has always loved football, so we were thrilled when we learned that a local league was starting a special needs team. When we arrived at the field for our first practice, we were happy to see some of Beau’s special buddies from school, but sadly, not enough players to form a team. And then, like a scene from a movie, the Vikings took to the field alongside our special little boys and played. Game on! This was sportsmanship at its very best –a group of young men and their coach, volunteering their time and talents to make a difference in the life of my son and his buddies. For the first time in Beau’s life, he was part of a team. He was a Challenger!
Blessed in every way, I am a mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend to those who make me a better person. I am an advocate trying to make the world a better place for people living with intellectual disabilities.
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