Giving Back

One of my favorite volunteer events of the year is managing the standing long jump at the Annual Track and Field competition for A Sporting Chance. This has been my event for several years and I love it more every year. My day consists of several different heats of athletes ranging in age from 3 to 70-ish with a wide range of disabilities from physical to mental and in various sizes and personalities. Because I have been at this event for so many years, I have built a camaraderie with some of the athletes and I love seeing them each year. Each heat has between 2-5 participants and each jumper gets to jump 3 times and their best distance counts. I watch the jumpers after their first jump I can see their range so on the second jumps, I stand just out of their reach and hold my hand to give them a target to reach for their next 2 jumps. It is so much fun to challenge them to try and increase their distance each time. Even though some of the jumpers are barely able to jump, I don’t bring attention to that. I encourage them to do better each time just like they were olympians and I celebrate each time as if they did. Once they are finished, my escorts take them to receive their medals and that’s very exciting for them. My favorite jumper though is my 52 year old brother who has Down’s Syndrome without whom I would not have a heart for those with disabilities. There are very few days in my life that are spent ONLY with joy and this is one of those days. It is made better because my helpers include my daughter, her fiance’ and my two oldest granddaughters. I hope as they grow up their hearts will always care for others and seek opportunities to volunteer their time and remember the memories we made together.

My brother and some of my helpers

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