Q27: Life With Charley – Everyone’s Arena

While it’s important not to reduce people with disabilities to objects of inspiration, Sherry admits that someone she doesn’t really know taught her an important life lesson.

It may sound odd, but that one event taught me more than the entire four years I spent in college. It also changed the course of my life. Susan will never know it. And that’s the tragedy; she’ll never know how she inspired a stranger, or how grateful that stranger is today. I wonder sometimes, if she knew, would it change the course of her life? Would it empower her to know how she empowered someone else? How she played a part in the person I would become?  Pp. 484-485

Has someone inspired you, or changed the way you think about life?

Special Olympics gets it right. Nearly fifty years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver had a vision. That vision was that there be an arena for people like Charley. An arena where people don’t see disabilities first. Or the moon-shaped eyes of Down syndrome. Or wheelchairs. Or skinny or fat. Or speech impediments. Or thick glasses, or lonely kids sitting on the sidelines because they don’t fit. It’s an arena where there are no disabilities, only abilities. It’s an arena for every kid—not just the cool kids. Not just the beautiful people. Not just the skateboards. Not just the fastest and the best, but where the applause is meant for everyone. There is no one-upmanship, only everyoneship. It’s an arena where there are no “monkey-in-a-zoo” girls, or man- children who can’t play because they have beards, because everyone is on the same level, and everyone is someone. It’s an arena where the starting gun means go, and the finish line means keep on going. Pp. 504 – 505

Charley thrives in Special Olympics.  Does your son/daughter participate in SO?  How do you feel about segregated environments?  Some have criticized the SO mantra of “everyone is a winner,” claiming that it sets people up for disappointment in the “real world.”  Do you agree/disagree?

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