Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spread the Word to End the Word

Help me Spread the Word to End the Word. Make your pledge to end the use of the word "retard(ed)." 

Up to three percent of the world's population have intellectual disabilities - that's 200 million people around the world. It's the largest disability population in the world.

Help eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word, a common taunt used to make fun of others. Often unwittingly, the word is used to denote behavior that is clumsy, hapless, and even hopeless. Whether intentional or not, the word conjures up a painful stereotype of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. It hurts. Even if you don't mean it.

Visit and take the pledge.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Go for the Gold

When I volunteered on Saturday at the Special Olympics, I sat in a room off the cafeteria at the ski resort. I, along with other volunteers, wrote each athlete's combined times on the finals sheets. There were downhill, slalom and giant slalom events, with novice, intermediate and advanced categories. Some of the 60 athletes competed in all three events.

"I'm usually out with the team," said Rose. She sat beside me with a calculator adding up the times. "My son is a skier."

"Last year he didn't do so well," she said. "Last year, he tried the advanced level and he lost all of the events. We really had to talk a lot with him then, he was so upset. It was hard for him to face defeat like that. He had to decide if he wanted to continue. And he did, but he moved back to intermediate because he wasn't ready for advanced."

That night, I was reminded of the conversation with Rose as I watched the Vancouver Olympics. There was a special segment about the American speed skater Apolo Ohno and his dad, Yuki. When Apolo was young, his dad explained, Apolo competed in a race and lost, and it was obvious that he had given up. Afterwards, Yuki took him to a remote cabin and told Apolo to decide what he wanted to do.

Apolo made his choice. As of this post, he has won seven Olympic medals.

Just like Apolo, Rose's son was defeated and had given up. While he doesn't have the same level of skill as Apolo, he was faced with a similar choice and he decided to keep going, try harder and do his best.

This Special Olympics athlete made his choice. On Saturday, he won three golds.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Have I Been Up To?

Focus Donna! Actually, I am, but my attention is not on writing. We have been doing some updates on the house and that's taking more of my time.

Kurt has been helping. Over the weekend, when Paul painted several rooms, Kurt moved the ladder for his dad, fetched rags or ran other little errands. When Paul took the quarter rounds off in preparation for the new flooring, Kurt hammered out all the nails.

This past year, Kurt has taken an active role in projects with his dad. In contrast to his brothers, it may seem like a small task. Keith starts his post-college job today. Kelly, a senior in high school, is not home much. He spends all available time skiing. If I take into account what Kurt has overcome, then he has climbed mountains.

In the 1990s, Kurt often woke having one or two seizures. Throughout his day, he had hundreds of twitches and nods as myoclonic seizures hit every few seconds. He wore a helmet because drop seizures would through him to the ground. In 1999, he had to relearn to walk and talk again after a bout with seizures that caused paralysis and brain damage.

I think having Kurt help around the house, with no seizures, is remarkable.

Kurt at 19