What’s really special about the Special Olympics

The Special Olympics World Games happened in Los Angeles last month.  It was the largest sports and humanitarian event of the year bringing together 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators.  Personifying courage, passion and perseverance.

Click here to watch the video we produced showing all this inspiring event! Below are three powerful lessons the athletes taught me and Parisa about what life feels like when you come from a place of love, learning and leadership.  We are so grateful to have worked with such beautiful, kind souls.

Lesson #1: Be eager to learn. No matter their physical or intellectual challenges, every athlete shared their enthusiasm and openness when learning something new. People didn’t shy away or close down when they were challenged or outside their comfort zone. The majority of the workshop participants didn’t know about Qigong, but as they moved and mimicked what I was doing, their smiles grew bigger as they grew more confident and calm. When you’re eager to learn, you’re fearless.

Lesson #2: Practice gratitude: As I looked around at the thousands and thousands of people sitting in the stands, competing on the field and waving from the sidelines, joy was everywhere. Have you noticed that all happy people love sharing stories? Athletes and families swapped stories about winning, losing and lessons learned. All of us are grateful when we’re surrounded by like-minded people who offer encouragement and belonging irrespective of who is wearing gold, silver or bronze.

Lesson #3: Accept, celebrate and include others. The long-time oath of the Special Olympics is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Each of us is blessed with special gifts and special limitations. How we celebrate those differences shape who we are as individuals and who we are as a community. All of us win when we accept, celebrate and include people different from us; our world and our heart grow larger. You know why? You’re perfect just the way you are. We’re all on the same team, playing the same special game.