Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Special Olympics

Meg Casey
October 5, 1983

Dear Meg,

I see articles in the newspaper about Special Olympics, but I’m afraid to volunteer. Have you ever been to a Special Olympics event?


Dear Chicken Hearted,

Why are you afraid to volunteer at a Special Olympics event? All you can catch is enthusiasm so don't be silly! Not only have I been to see these athlete’s goings-on before, but I have been an active volunteer at the games for the last two years straight and was given to very distinct honor of actually being asked to present medals to some of the winners.

There really aren't any restrictions involved. Anyone is able to volunteer and find themselves quite busy as soon as they do. There are a million little and big things to be done behind the scenes and in front throughout a very long but so rewarding weekend. Do anything from directing traffic to putting on hamburgers into those styrofoam containers with Ronald at the McDonald's tent on the lunchtime scramble Go from selling ice cream bars to the spectators to being a companion-escort for a special athlete as they go from one event to another. But the most sought after jobs are those of huggers – A hugger is a lucky soul who waits behind the finish line with a bunch of other huggers and standing in full view of their athletes –proceed to jump around and cheer their competitors on like a pack of screaming maniacs with their arms outstretched and readied TV to wrap their champions up in a tight bear hug and slap the biggest wettest kiss on those proud and excited laughing faces, one by one, as they make it across the end. The feeling is really indescribable in words alone and it's absolutely infectious. Once you’ve been there you got the fever.

At first I will admit to having had my own hidden reservations but the whole idea of a Special Olympics as some do about the Jerry Lewis Telethons thinking they were strictly hyped-up patronizing displays. That was before I understood. That was before I'd been there to witness “the achievement" with my own spirit. Watching is more than a visual recording of your eyes and mind, it is an emotional experience that sets your insides to somersaulting. Every single participant is a winner in these games and to fully understand why you have to see for yourself the grueling determination on a young man's face as he sweats and strains his muscles as best he can to simply move his body a few feet along the floor so as to reach the pull cord that rings the bell signaling he’d done it! I used the word "simply" because moving those 3 feet for me is so easy that the significance of the act doesn't register but every inch was a struggle for this young guy in a battle against his body. A battle that he and the guys struggling on the floor next to him had trained for! It was then that the realization struck me. Those people were athletes and they were into pushing their bodies to the physical limits as in every other sports fanatic and they were just as deserving of the title. To have helped them out but pushing the bell and cord closer would have been an insult. They had each trained hard and had come to see who was the fastest – this was "their event!"

Is is amazing how exciting it is. They are so proud of themselves and what they have done. You'll find yourself choking on"the thrill of victory" as you are screaming your head off in celebration. These are the ultimate good sports because fast for slow every participant is a unique winner by their own merits. They show the rest of the world that it truly is not whether you win or lose it's how you play the game - with all your heart!

Milford Polished-Marble
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photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper
Memorable Milford regrets that a political dispute has made it necessary to complete this project without the cooperation of a claimant to the original columns
The original author disdained those only seeking to profit from tragedies.
We did not feel that a disagreement should prevent the public from learning and enjoying these incredible pieces of advice and show they are still relevant to today.