The Harnisch Family

The Harnisch Family

May 31, 2012

Macy's first Race!! Special Olympics NE 50M Dash

Macy's first experience as a "true" Special Olympic athlete was nothing short of FANTASTIC!The whole day my mind kept thinking back to that awesome "It's fantastic" PSA produced by Special Olympics Wisconsin - so we (me & my dad) felt we had to tie-it in somehow.
the girls first (of many hopefully) Olympic medal  :-)
I put together a little video montage of Miss Macy's first official Race!! The 50 Meter Dash that is! Along with a little extra footage at the end :-) There were just SOOO many wonderful photos made available from SOO many people, I felt it a disservice to not do ANYTHING with them.
So here's my, slightly sentimental, reflection on Miss Macy's first "true" Special Olympics experience. It was truly fantastic :-)

click here to watch highlight VIDEO of the race! 

Perhaps the video is a little cheesy...yes...but my Dad made me do it!  So I blame him for my lack of sleep last night - hehe 

As far as the actual race went - Macy exceeded my expectations!  She did so well.  Started right @ the sound of the gun, had big smiles the whole way down, stayed in her lane the entire 50 Meters, even RAN most of the way (just had to stop a few times to smile & clap for herself)...she enjoyed the cheer of the crowd so much, that she stopped just short of the finish line, back-tracked a few times and came in with four strong finishes!! All the while, never leaving her lane.
Oh man, it was a HOOT!  What a little ham.

McKenzie finished the race in second place.  She was such a proud and helpful big sister - ran slow & encouraged Macy the whole way down - was instructing her to "run" and "stay in your lane".  That, in an of itself, made the entire experience WORTH IT!
Madi got first place (by a long shot)...Eisley would have finished last (she, with the help of Laura) was taking her sweet old time - cruising leisurely down the track...however, due to the fact that Macy never "actually" crossed the finish line and had to finally be carried across it after four previous "fake" attempts.  oh well.  better luck next time right?  she has a lot to learn about "finishing strong & not celebrating till it's over".  This was a "" year.  hehe

My dad and I were talking about this "fantastic" PSA that day & how we know Macy had that "it's fantastic" feeling (thanks to the loud cheers, laughing & pointing, etc) at her track's my hope that the other athlete's did too.  And I hope that experience continues for them. I'm certain SONE will see to it, that it does. What an awesome and amazing organization that gets to work with and enrich the lives of such awesome and amazing individuals.
If nothing else, I hope this helps stress how important "fans in the stands" are.  It's not just the loud support from familiar faces, friends & family.  It's the high-fives, loud cheers and "way-to-go's" that come from total strangers that make all the difference in the heart of our Special Olympians.  Just imagine how it would feel to be approached and praised (in person) by someone you do not know.   Have never met before.  I'd imagine it would be "FANTASTIC".

It is my hope & desire that this feeling and rush of emotions continue for Macy and ALL her friends!
Because at the end of the day - our friend Maya Angelou said it best:  "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER FORGET how you made them FEEL"! 

Since I was so preoccupied with the busy day ahead (ballet, tap, birthday party, My gym & 2 grad parties - unplanned trip to the ER for stitches - that's a whole OTHER blog post), I FORGOT my camera at home...lots of these pictures & stellar video are courtesy of "Grandpa-cam"...and the photos came from several sources...seems everyone (but me) had their camera - of course.  Special Olympics NE had dozens of pro-photographers (All of whom volunteered their time I believe) snapping away. 

Thousands of photos from just about every angle captured ALL the action at each the 2012 S.O. Summer Games event and have been made readily available & easily accessible...check 'em out here
So thanks for that!  :-)
Yes, being involved in athletics, I feel, is important in the development of an individual.  Makes them well-rounded, etc... 
But just as important as "playing a sport", I feel that "being a part of a team" is even more crucial.    Special Olympics not only makes these various "physical fitness" opportunities available to people of ALL abilities, but it further accommodates positive social interactions and helps to form lifelong friendships!  Builds confidence, camaraderie and morale.

In the true spirit of the games, we saw new friendships forming all around us.  We can learn a lot from these athletes.  They do not discriminate and seem to be comfortable talking to anyone.  Can't we all be a little more like that? 
We stuck around for a while after Macy's event to add some "noise" to the stands.  

I wanted to share one story:
Two nights before, while walking around TD Ameritrade stadium during the Opening Ceremonies, a lady, probably in her 50's?, who had significant physical and intellectual disabilities herself, approached Macy.  She gave my baby girl a huge smile & high-five.  Macy proceeded to wave and blow her a kiss.  She got down to her level, all smiles (allowing Macy to steal her popcorn).  Suddenly the tone changed for a brief moment...She whispered something (just loud enough for me to hear) into Macy's ear.  This is a moment I will NEVER forget.  
"If anyone EVER picks on you, makes fun of you, or gives you a hard time, I'll give you my phone number".  These words came sternly from her mouth.  I could tell speaking and communicating in general was a challenge for her.  But this.  This she said perfectly crisp, clear and 100% easy to understand.  She was serious and passionate about having my sweet girl's back.   Now, if only she didn't live so far away in the town of Minden.
It made my heart melt.  Filled it with inspiration, happiness & sadness all at the same time.  Happiness, because it made me realize that Macy will ALWAYS have people around to "have her back".  Especially those who walk a similar "walk" as she.  But sad, too, because I can not even imagine the life that this lady must have had to endure, to feel compelled to share this powerful & sobering message with a mere two year old.  My daughter no less.  Surely, she see's something we don't see (or choose to ignore rather) about the road Macy will be going down.  I hope these societal & social stigmas have changed for the better over the years.  I'm confident they have.  Things look a lot different for individuals with disabilities, then it did 50 years ago.  SO MUCH MORE HOPE & PROMISE - it's very reassuring.
It has taken strategic initiatives and movements by people and organizations such as Special Olympics to accomplish this change.  We, as a society have come so far.  Yes, there is more tolerance, acceptance and understanding than ever before.  But we still have a long ways to go.  We, as a society, need to step up and continue to support these intiatives and movements.  We can't let the work of so many before us fall by the wayside.  We need to keep building on it.  "Get in the game" so to say.
This does not mean that I want all my friends to volunteer or coach or donate money (I understand it's hard to commit time & especially money these days).  That's not what this rally-cry is about.  It's not even about inviting you to come out and cheer on Macy.  I think we should all step outside our comfort zones every once in a while.  Take a look around.  Find out if there are any Special Olympic events happening in our community (I assure you there ARE!  TONS of events all year round). 
I encourage you to just GO.  SEE.  CHEER for someone you don't know.  I challenge you to strike up a conversation, or in the very least just flash a sincere smile, say hi, offer a high-five, say "way to go", etc...  I PROMISE, this will leave a lasting impression on their hearts (and the hearts of their loved ones as well).  And this will stick with them for some time!   It's that easy.  :-)  By doing being a "fan in the stands" you are playing a huge role in improving and enriching the quality of life of someone who deserves it.  We are all unique in our own right and created in God's image.  Some of us are "able-bodied" now, but I assure you, we will not be "able-bodied" forever.  There will come a time, when each of us can appreciate "first-hand" the trials and challenges that many of our "differently-abled" friends experience.

Reaching out and cheering them on in their moments of glory (and by glory I also mean bravery) is just the "neighborly" thing to do.  And, I promise, it will warm your own heart as well.  :-)

Thanks to all the Special Olympics staff and volunteers for coordinating yet another FANTASTIC and well organized event.  You made everyone feel welcomed and embraced.  I want to thank Laura Strathe, especially, for inviting us to take part in the action this year (well, more like MADE us).  She not only told us where to be and when, but she was so helpful and hands-on with our kiddos at the events as well  :-)  So, THANKS LAURA!!

And a few photos taken at the Aquatics event from that Thursday  :-)
See Joe down there in the viser?
every time Macy spotted him down there, she'd get SUPER excited!  There's no question that this girl recognizes, knows how to say and loves her daddy.  :-) It was hilarious!
There he is again...along with his co-worker Casey (the other guy in the grey volunteer shirt)  :-)