The vast majority face a life of prejudice and discrimination, loneliness and limitation. Our number one challenge in Special Olympics is to end that.
When I fire up the engine in my race car, I focus 100 percent on the task at hand: bringing home a win. As a race car driver, if you are not focused, you can go from winning to wrecking out your car in a split second.
Whether it's the tradition of the Cowboys playing football on Thanksgiving, Red Kettles in front of stores during the holidays, or a Thanksgiving Day halftime show, it's important for us all to both create new traditions with our loved ones and keep the old ones alive.
When you see a tiny premature baby weighing less than two pounds hooked up to tubes and wires, not having had the opportunity to feel the loving embrace from their parents, and then you watch them progressively get better until they're standing right in front of you as a healthy seven-year-old child, to me, this is why we are here.
Sure I played football, baseball and basketball from an early age -- 7 or 8 -- like most kids where I lived. It taught me a lot about sport, commitment and that internal drive. But those lessons paled in comparison to what I got from those countless hours spent playing at Dottie Jordan, and the intangible gifts from Mr. Armistead, even if we didn't realize how much he was investing in our lives at the time.
When my sister-in-law told me about a volunteer opportunity with CASA advocating on behalf of children in need, I knew that was how I wanted to give back. I feel in a way I honor my grandfather's memory through my work with these children.
If my Lucas had not been admitted to the NICU, I don't know if he or Grace would ever have been diagnosed. I'm so thankful the doctors caught their illness early on.
Quality coaching is a critical factor in determining whether an athlete will be successful at the elite level. Yet, sports organizations often do not invest adequate resources in developing coaches.
The experience of being on the brink of death and fighting for one's own life truly changed me. It made me realized what was most important in life. My values, goals, desire, passion, priorities and drive had all changed. If I was capable of beating cancer, there was not a thing in the world that I could not do. Cancer has made me the person I am today.
Camp Sunshine opened new vistas for Katherine. Having been very introverted from years of being bald and laughed at by other children, she now found herself in an environment where everyone was in the same boat. She and 36 other special children blossomed like they had never had before.
I think it is very important that coaches and parents understand what a young athlete really wants at a given stage and not push him or her too fast or too far so that the love is lost.
Had I not had Clyde as my coach and been fortunate enough to have such a positive sports experience at that early age, there may never have been a "Battle of the Sexes" or the opportunity to see through that fifth-grade dream of mine.
Let's face it, most kids aren't going to play sports at the D-I college level, so it's important that they come away from their experience where they want to be in sports and be active for the rest of their lives. It's about their psychological, emotional, social and physical welfare.