Let Us All Be Brave in The Attempt – Guest Blogger Rhonda
I first learned about Special Olympics while attending the Prince William County School’s Transition Fair. The fair held annually provides vendors and parents the opportunity to speak and share information. I stopped at the Special Olympics’ table to pick up the handouts when the representative asked me if my son was interested in sports. James is my fourth son and has grown up watching his three older brothers participate in soccer, basketball, lacrosse, swimming and baseball. I always try to give James the same opportunities as his older brothers and answered yes, but with his multiple disabilities is not able to keep up with kids his own age. The representative replied that is not a problem, this is the right place for James. He also explained that the Special Olympics is a free, non-profit organization, solely supported by volunteers and fundraising (Polar Plunge).
I contacted my area coordinator and we attended our first meeting for swimming. While at the meeting, the coordinator asked for volunteers to support Special Olympics throughout Prince William County. I am not a sideline mom and a firm believer in giving back, no matter how small. So I thought about it a minute and decided I wanted to volunteer and help in any way I could. They were looking for a bocce coach and asked if I knew anything about it. The funny thing about Bocce, I learned to play on the beach in California visiting family. I told them I know how to play but have never coached bocce. My first meeting and now I’m going to be a bocce coach! What was I thinking! As everything in life, you do your best, give it your all, and have no regrets.
Bocce season was set and I was going to my first practice. Yes, I was nervous, I wasn’t sure if anyone would show up. Would they understand I’m very new to Special Olympics and coaching bocce? I drove up and parked my car. I started getting the equipment out, parents and athletes were coming up to me introducing themselves, helping with the equipment, and pitching in where needed. The parents and athletes came together as a team and welcomed me in right away. The first practice went better than expected and without any problems. Many parents and athletes volunteered to help set up the courts and to keep score. I remember feeling so blessed to be part of an organization that empowers individuals and we were all having so much fun, it was a great first season with Coach Rhonda.
We attended the Summer Special Olympic Games in Richmond June 2016, this was a first for me! During state games, athletes compete for medals (gold, silver, and bronze). Our Bocce Team, consisting of 5 athletes, won 2 gold and 3 silver medals. I was so proud of my team, the medals around their necks and was amazed how well they played.
I have finished four seasons of coaching bocce. The Bocce Team just competed at Fall Special Olympics State Games in Virginia Beach. We had seven athletes compete, placing with 6 gold medals and 1 silver. I couldn’t be more proud of the athletes on my team. When I look at their faces while practicing or competing I see so much strength in their abilities as athletes. When the representative said, Special Olympics was the right place for my son, he was correct. I am so thankful I was brave in my attempt to coach. I am proud of my athletes in how brave they are to compete. If not for the volunteers, Special Olympics would not exist. Not only does the Special Olympic oath apply to the athletes, it applies to the coaches as well. James has gained confidence, friends, and two medals since joining Special Olympics. He has also been involved with swimming and bowling sponsored by Special Olympics. Athletes are encouraged to participate in as many sports as they would like.
If you would like to contact Special Olympics in your area, just click here! I encourage you to be BRAVE!