On Saturday while flipping through the TV listings, we happened upon the highlights of the 2010 Paralympic Winter games. I wrote about this previously, and had wanted to see the games, so I was thrilled to get to see some of it.
That's really the only word I have to describe it. I spent most of the time watching not really trusting myself to speak, since I had such a big lump in my throat. We got to see athletes with only 10% of their sight hurtle down a mountain in the skiing events. We saw a man, born with no arms, compete in an event that required him to cross country ski and shoot at a target--with his specially modified gun. We learned the story of a woman who is now a medalist in both the summer and winter paralympic games--at the age of 17 she was in an accident (I can't remember exactly what happened) and is now in a wheelchair, but she plays paralympic basketball and is a gold medal downhill skiier. We watched the US sledge hockey team take the gold, moving around the ice in sleds with blades on the bottom.
It is beyond lamentable that these games didn't get more coverage, or even at a prime time. I am at a loss to explain how a person who is sighted who skiis down a hill at top speeds is somehow better or more worthy of admiration than someone who CAN'T SEE doing the same.
I could go into a whole rant about this, but that's not the point of this post. The point is the astonishing example these people set. I made Dakin watch it (though he fell asleep during the hockey game :) ), and I hope that some part of him remembers. I really hope that he keeps these atheletes in mind: people who choose to not let their disabilities define them.
People who were obviously never told that visually impaired people shouldn't throw themselves down a mountain on a pair of skiis--and if they were, they didn't listen. People who, after having suffered life-altering accidents, picked up a pair of sledge hockey sticks instead of a bottle. People who would, by all rights, have every excuse in the world to completely shut down and feel sorry for themselves.
Not these atheletes. I am still in wonder, and am emotional all over again about this. I hope beyond everything that I have the kind of chutzpah it takes to raise a child with disabilities and teach him that he is NOT the sum total of his wheelchair or his ventilator--that he CAN do these types of things, and with courage, beauty and grace.
I can't wait until the summer paralympics. The other countries better start training now: Dakin is coming.