It started with being asked to fill a seat at the table.
10 years ago, at the beginning of my career at Comcast, I had my first glimpse into the Special Olympics. Comcast was a lead sponsor for Special Olympics Washington and I attended the Breakfast of Champions fundraiser. Throughout the event, I was touched by the stories of athletes and event speakers, but soon the event was a distant memory.
The following year, I found myself at the same event, at the same Comcast sponsored table, but I was not the same. I recall holding onto my growing belly and looking around the room, grappling with equal feelings of fear and joy. My husband and I had recently learned that our son would be born with Down syndrome. Suddenly, our life had taken an unexpected twist; one I wasn’t sure I was ready to handle.
There was something about watching the athletes, hearing from the self-advocates and seeing the full lives they lead, the joy and optimism that shines through, that told me, “it’s all going to be ok.” That event changed my outlook forever and ultimately led to my being an opening speaker at the same event a few years later when my son, Parker, was three years old.
Parker and his sister Ella have participated in the Special Olympics Young Athletes Program the last two years. This program is for future special Olympians, and models inclusivity by allowing typically developing siblings to join! Parker and Ella had a great time learning sportsmanship skills, how to play as a team and making new friends. Now that Parker is 8 years old, he qualifies for the Special Olympics and we look forward to finding a sport that he loves – swimming? Bowling? Bocce?
We are fortunate to have a unique and timely opportunity to show Parker and Ella all of the athletic possibilities. The Special Olympics 2018 USA Games will be one of the largest and most significant events in the history of Seattle and it has been exciting to see everything that Comcast has done to drive awareness for the occasion. More than 3,500 Special Olympics athletes from around the nation will compete in 16 Olympic-type individual and team sports, as well as special events.
In 2008, I learned that Special Olympics was a great organization that my company supported. Now in 2018, I am incredibly proud and personally thankful that my employer has continued to support the Special Olympics—an organization that has been instrumental in paving a better way for my son, even before he was born.
Contributions and sponsorships from local companies help Special Olympics Washington provide year-round support to children and adults with intellectual disabilities, but all of us, can also play a role in supporting the effort by simply attending the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.
Let’s not miss this unique opportunity to attend the sports competitions and other games-related events that take place July 1-6, 2018, at venues throughout Seattle and King County. By attending the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, we can play a role in celebrating people of all abilities, and support the Special Olympics. On behalf of all of us at Comcast Washington, I hope to see you there!
By Michelle Becker, Comcast Washington