Thanks to my friend, Alex, I had the privilege of attending the 2015 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony last night. I’ve expressed on social media how inspired I felt during and after the ceremony, but I think joy is the more resonant word. Joy was one of the more prominent themes of the night and that’s exactly what I felt in the Coliseum. To see these individuals with characteristics that they’ve been stigmatized by and treated differently for competing in a global competition with tremendous talents that many believed they couldn’t simultaneously have with their disabilities was incredibly uplifting. To learn a brief history of the Games really emphasized much of what the guest speakers referenced when they spoke about the journey so far; regardless of who wins, every athlete present was already a winner in the fight against discrimination.
The best part of USC hosting the Games this week is having such a cluster of cultures on campus coming together in the most beautiful way. What I absolutely loved about this was seeing the athletes on the big screen embracing one another and uniting over their joint goal in spreading love and encouragement. It was also beautiful to see parents there with their children with disabilities. I wondered going into the stadium if there would be fair crowd participation when each country walked the carpet, but there was so much love for each country and so much representation dispersed in the stadium with flags galore. There were so many amazing performances-my favorites by Stevie Wonder and Cassadee Pope-and moving, tear-jerking speeches. As many know First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke and rang in the Games which was just such a notable moment for myself to have it in my book that I was physically present for a speech by the First Lady. Following her speech came the lighting of the torch and tremendous amounts of fireworks I failed to capture on my polaroid 😦 I could not stop smiling and crying all night even through the crippling hunger that overtook me by the end. There was so much pride, support, and above all, love. What an amazing night ❤
But if I cannot win,
Let me be brave in the attempt”
REACH UP, LA!