My editor wrote this over at GerardMcLean.com and I had to share. It is something that I privately champion at every opportunity, and this being one of those time, here you go.
I first got schooled in the Paralympic Games from Kim* during a telephone conversation my first week on the job back in 1996. For those who don’t know, I used to sell exercise bikes to paralyzed people. True.
“I am a tennis player,” she said.
“You mean you used to play tennis?” I asked.
“No, stupid. I play tennis. Wheelchair tennis. And I’m training for the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.”
“The Special Olympics?” I said.
“No, I’m in a chair, not a f***ing r*tard!” she shot back angrily.
She was not one to mince words. She had also served four years in the US Navy and she swore like a sailor.
By the time I left the company several years later, we had gotten to be pretty good friends. I wish I had kept in touch, but that wasn’t what Kim was all about. She was one who lived in the moment, curious and anxious for the future with no regrets for the past. She never made it to Sydney, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
That was my introduction to the Paralympic Games. They are held two weeks after the Olympic Games everyone knows about and gets broadcast on TV. Here is the Web site for the Games in Vancouver.
Eventually, I hope the Paralympic Games are played alongside the Olympic Games as paralympic athletes are every bit as tough as their able-boded counterparts. It seems to me that even when NBC doesn’t see the value in broadcasting the Paralympic Games, Social Media should be all over it. The Paralympics are like a really cool blog that you accidentally stumble into that you didn’t know existed, but changes your world view forever. If you want to see some real athletic ability, I encourage you to watch this year. And London. And Russia. And Rio.
Get involved on twitter. Encourage Guy and Neenz to establish a blog directory for the Paralympics on Alltop.com that doesn’t lead to disability. Write a blog article about how you feel about the Paralympics.
Do something inclusive. We’re all in this together.
*Withholding last name, but in case she ever reads this and I have permission to fill in the last name, I’d be happy to.
**Please don’t contact me about ELA being out of business. That happened way after I left.