Thursday, May 2, 2013

I use my lungs to welcome

While I have been deejaying and/or mcing Special Olympic events long enough to have a Special Olympic gold watch, this was the second Spring Games I have had the gift to MC since my first diagnosis of lung cancer.

Yes I could quote chapter and verse from the Special Olympics Spring Games mission and vision but through the years I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that can possibly connect so many volunteers from police departments, schools, corporations, and more is a chance to spend a couple hours with the face of God.

My favorite moment as Master of Ceremonies is working with the students that will be using the microphone for one part or another of the opening ceremonies before they begin.

The teenage girl that would lead the pledge of allegiance bounded up excitedly asking me if I liked Dave Mathews. Smiling I confirmed  that I did and asked her if she wanted to practice explaining that performers like Dave Mathews do ‘sound checks’ to hear what they sound like over a stadium sound system. Hearing and “enjoying” her amplified voice booming through the stadium – she was ready.

As the color guard formed behind her and presented the flags, she smiled and nailed every word of the pledge of allegiance without a prompt card. Leaning into her I whispered in her ear, “Dave Mathews would be so proud of you.” – Turning her mega smile on me she almost reduced me to tears.  

Hearing the opening notes of the Star Spangled Banner I had to quickly choke back any emotional timber in my voice to introduce elementary school students signing the National Anthem.

Celebrating its 45th anniversary, Prince George’s County hosts the oldest Spring Games in the country, preceding Special Olympics National Games by one year. Bob Janus who started the county spring games was part of the backyard day camp at the Shriver home for young people with intellectual disabilities where it all began.

Thank you God for the continuing gift of my lungs (and a microphone, of course) to welcome a stadium full of athletes, teachers, friends, families and volunteers to another year of Special Olympics Spring Games. 

As if Special Olympics was not life energizing enough, driving home I got a call from Response Genetics in Los Angeles with questions about bio-marker testing of my cancer. 

Special Olympics's Athlete's Oath:
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @

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