Monday, February 22, 2010

Special Olympics

I'm an Olympics nerd so I'm enjoying the 2010 Vancouver Games. When I was a kid, I saw the movie "Chariots of Fire" and became an aficionado of all things Citius, Altius, Fortius. These Latin words mean "Swifter, Higher, Stronger" and make up the Olympic motto. They are the perfect words to describe Shani Davis, Apolo Anton Ohno, Lindsey Vonn, the U.S. Hockey Team, and all of the athletes leaving their hearts on snowy, icy fields. The motto was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympics, when he helped create the International Olympic Committee in 1894. De Coubertin borrowed it from Father Henri Didon, a Dominican priest who loved sports. It was introduced in 1924 at the Olympic Games in Paris, the same Olympic Games that gave us Eric Liddell, the runner who gave up a chance to win the gold medal in the 100 meter dash and become the fastest man in the world because he couldn't run on Sunday, the athlete who instead won the gold medal and set the world record in the 400 meter race, the person who went on to become a missionary in China and the inspiration behind "Chariots of Fire." Ah, so many stories are like the circles that make up the Olympic rings!

Have you ever seen the commercial called "Special Athlete"? You can watch it on YouTube. It's about a race during the Special Olympics. A boy with Down Syndrome is sprinting as fast as he can down the track when his feet get tangled together and he trips and falls. The other Special Olympians breeze past him on their way to the tape. Suddenly, they slow down and stop. They go back to the boy, pick him up, and walk him across the finish line. They win the gold medal together! In an 'upside down' kind of way, they show the real meaning of Citius, Altius, Fortius. This week, let's be swifter, higher, and stronger by taking care of people around us, especially people who are the least and most forgotten among us. It will make the world a better place.

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