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Three weeks ago, I attended my sister Rachel’s Special Olympics competition. My father and I arrived at the venue early in order to visit with my sister and many of the other athletes.  What I witnessed that day was truly powerful and has had a lasting effect on me. I saw the dedication and support of many volunteers that day, but what had a lasting impression on me was seeing fraternities from the local college supporting and being involved in every part of the event. Many of these college students were actually in the pool working with and assisting the Special Olympics athletes. While in attendance, I realized that over the past eight to ten years, I had not seen college students be so actively involved in an event such as this. These fraternity brothers had assembled cooking booths for all the athletes and attendees, along with dedicating their time and talent to work with the special needs of the athletes. During the hour and twenty minute ride home from the event, my father and I discussed how incredible it was to see a younger generation of students be so eager and willing to help out and get involved with special needs athletes. We talked about how Southern Connecticut State University and the committee of the Special Olympics had done such a wonderful job energizing the younger generation to become involved with an event such as Special Olympics. Additionally, we discussed how great leadership was shown on that Saturday morning and how it could affect my insurance agency.

Growing up with a sister who has special needs was not difficult task, like many assume. It was simply what we knew. However, witnessing how special needs children were treated as I grew up was a very difficult task. Three weeks ago, I realized just how far society has come with the treatment of special needs athletes, and it brought a tear to my eye. During that Special Olympics event, many of the volunteers were handing out bracelets to be worn everyday with a saying on it that said “we need to remove the R word from our society”. The ‘R word’ has brought a lot of pain to many families in the past fifty years. I think it’s amazing that people from all walks of life have come together to put an end to the use of the ‘R word.’

There is a very good reason why the Special Olympics is called special- these young men and women can teach you more about life than you could have possibly realized. During my time at the event there three weeks ago, I learned three very valuable lessons about being an insurance agent from the special needs athletes. Number one- these athletes were extremely focused on accomplishing a goal. Number two- they had the most amazing attitude you could ever ask for in a person. Number three- not one of them ever complained, whether they came in first place they came in last place.  Every one of those athletes had a smile on their faces from ear to ear, and we all knew that they had given their best effort.  I hope you take these three very valuable lessons and include them into your daily life. I know I certainly will.