My newest friend, Jocelyn, the World Special Olympics Silver Medalist and Grand Marshall of Ceremonies for the Lake Dallas Special Olympics, recited the Special Olympics motto in front of all of the athletes, volunteers, and high school students at the start of the games on Monday.
Although my mom and I volunteered with the Special Olympics all through my Middle and High School days and I’ve probably heard this motto over a thousand times, it struck a special cord with me on Monday. In all the times I’ve been to the Special Olympics, I have always left feeling that I received something much more valuable than the services I provided that day, and I think this motto has something to do with it.
As I stood in the hot sun with Miss Texas, Kristen Blair, and Miss Arlington, Cristie Kibler, I saw all the athletes running by with big smiles on their faces. You could hardly tell who had actually won the race! Having been a competitive athlete myself, I’ve seen my fair share of poor sportsmanship. Many times, I have seen girls’ smiles drop off their faces after placing second. But, that’s never true at these Olympics. We got to sign autographs for the proud athletes who would tell us all about how quickly they had run or how their relay team had done. Not a single athlete was disappointed in the outcome. However, one girl stood out to me. Her mother was holding her on her hip and told us how excited she was to meet Miss Texas. As she explained her daughter’s story, she said that she had cerebral palsy but was a pageant girl too! She was recently crowned Little Miss “You Can Do It!” These athletes never let anything stand in their way and have a remarkable appreciation for simply being able to participate. Another girl, Ebony, hugged me over five times during the day and had THE MOST stunning smile every time she came over. The pure happiness of these athletes is more genuine than anything I’ve ever seen, and if I could have even of fraction of their joy, then that would be success.
There are 33 girls who all want to be Miss Texas, but at the end of the competition, only one girl will walk away with the crown. Part of the reason I love the Miss America Organization is that it provides opportunities for all of the contestants to grow and pursue their dreams, but sometimes, it is hard to allow that journey to be the focus. I like to issue myself personal challenges when I encounter something inspirational. So, I want to adapt the Special Olympics motto as my own personal mindset in the days leading up to Miss Texas as well as all the days to follow. I find myself, especially lately, rediscovering one of my passions for quotes, and this one I found particularly relevant. Alex Noble said, “Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”
I know there is another Special Olympic volunteer opportunity available at the end of May, and I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested to attend. It is such a breath of fresh air. Best wishes to all the contestants as we move in to the final stretch before Miss Texas. I can’t wait to be reunited with everyone at the end of June!
Miss Frisco 2010