This weekend I attended an annual figure skating meeting. I have skated for over three decades, so being an athlete is in my blood. It’s a mindset that I’ve had more of my life than not. In the course of all the rule changes, awards and business discussions in the meeting, a mother and daughter stepped up to the podium to speak. Sara, 40, had recently passed the highest level ice dance test available from U.S. Figure Skating. In special education as a child, her mother Susan is a figure skating coach and former competitor. Sara spoke and I was in tears before I could blink. Not sad tears, but happy, hopeful tears.
Watching Sara read from her written speech a few feet away, Susan silently mouthed a few words as Sara occasionally paused or stumbled. But she wasn’t doing it FOR Sara, she was doing it WITH her. As competitive skaters, being driven is practically second nature. The discipline required to achieve in skating is high, so it doesn’t seem a stretch in my mind that that same perseverance would apply in helping our less able children. The energy and connection to Sara from Susan’s lips were palpable to me. Though I wanted to watch Sara, I was more interested in Susan. It was clear that this is woman who has not lost hope. In order to believe in what we must pursue for our children, we need to have hope. In order to keep taking action when we are too tired to get in the car for yet another therapy session, we must have hope. In order to feel like we can get up the next day, have a bad day or a bad moment, or a whole bunch of them, but get through it, hope is essential.
I had been looking forward to getting away to this meeting. A hotel room to myself for three days, wearing nice clothes, surrounded by only adults, and all people who have the same interest and passion for figure skating that I do. While I enjoyed it, the boost I received watching Susan was a huge bonus. Maybe figure skating isn’t as important as other pressing global issues. But like other sports, it serves its part in teaching and helping people. I could not have been more proud of my sport at that moment. I realized that though my son doesn’t walk, everything I have done in my past has equipped me and put me in a unique position to help him and possibly others through skating. Sara said it’s the little things that make a difference. Then she quoted the Special Olympics oath: “Let me win, and if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”.
I will be brave.