As many of you who follow SOMA’s blog or facebook page, National Games kicked off yesterday in Lincoln, Nebraska. There are many stories to tell, and Martha did a great job recapping the amazing night we all had at Opening Ceremonies, but I keep going back to getting here- and what an amazing journey our athletes went through to make it here. On top of the hours and hours of practice put into their craft, athletes competed in assessment rounds and state tournaments, all to be eligible to compete on the national stage. I felt so lucky to join them in their final journey (a much anticipated one): the flight.
You can’t be scared to fly when you’re flying with 30 Special Olympics athletes; It’s absolutely impossible. Trust me, I tried. Their enthusiasm spread through the entire plane when we took off from Boston and a loud cheer erupted when we finally touched down in Nebraska. As a person who typically tries to fall asleep on the plane in an attempt to avoid any conversation with my seat mates, I watched in awe as athletes exchanged hugs and best wishes with strangers they befriended on the flight. Their excitement as we all headed into Lincoln for National Games was literally contagious. This was the moment so many athletes had been waiting for: the chance to compete with their peers from all over the nation, and the chance to be recognized for their hard-work, dedication and infectious spirit. So, two plane rides, a two-hour layover, a bus ride, all while lugging around heavy bags and equipment, was no match for our SOMA crew. We greeted Nebraska with cheers, hugs, laughter and of course, the “official” SOMA hand-shake.
They made it. They’re here. They’re ready to show Nebraska, and the rest of the country, what they can do. Stay with us because there are many more stories to share. And, if you’re flying anytime soon and feeling anxious about the flight, I have a few friends in mind that can put it all in perspective for ya.