Seven Football Student-Athletes Assist at Special Olympics Event

Eddy Nelson, Will Vance, Anton Richardson, Jake Hudson,  Jalaan Owens, Da'Juan Glover and Carter Rudy
Eddy Nelson, Will Vance, Anton Richardson, Jake Hudson, Jalaan Owens, Da'Juan Glover and Carter Rudy

By:  Anton Richardson '18

BOSTON MILLS, Ohio -- On Friday, February 3, seven Baldwin Wallace University football student-athletes travelled to the Brandywine Ski Resort to participate in a Special Olympics event. 

The seven student-athletes were junior defensive tackle Anton Richardson (Chicago, Ill./ Gordon Tech), junior wide receiver Da'Juan Glover (Elyria), sophomore quarterbacks Jake Hudson (East Lake, Fla.) and Will Vance (Centerville), sophomore wide receiver Eddy Nelson (Miami, Fla./North Miami Beach), sophomore defensive back Jalaan Owens (Naperville, Ill./Central) and sophomore running back Carter Rudy (Avon).

Following are Richardson's, a broadcasting and journalism double major, thoughts and experiences on the day's events.

The simple opportunity for a Special Olympian to participate in sport, brings individuals of all backgrounds together. Even though one's talent and ability may be different from the rest, winning still seems to always be the common dominator between athletes, including Special Olympians. Playing sports is a way to display an athletic gift that you were blessed with or you learned through life-experiences.

Special Olympic athletes are a group of individuals who come from all facets of the world to compete to their fullest potential. The opportunity to participate brings joy because it is an opportunity to participate in activities they can do, instead of what they can't do.

Even though medals were passed out based upon his or her performance, winning is not everything to the Special Olympian.  No matter whether it's a gold, silver or bronze medal that is placed around their neck, the only color that really matters most to each participant is the color red, which signifies the color of their heart. Their heart cannot be placed on a podium. Their hearts are not up for display. Their heart is what drives them to be the best that they can be.  

I felt privileged to be able to participate in this event. The laughter, joy, and excitement filled the room full of athletes as their loved ones gave them a few words of encouragement, wisdom, and advice. As the willing participants prepared to take on the treacherous cold and ski upon the various mountains, I wasn't prepared on the lesson I was going to receive from this experience. 

It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. The sun was beaming down upon the athletes, giving them the extra boost to go out and compete to their fullest. While I was up at the top of one the mountains, I couldn't help but to notice how overly focused and prepared these athletes were. They were layered and decked out in the latest and technological snow gear; googles with the matching hat, ski masks that complemented their snow pants, and a pair of skis. The Ohio winter weather did not stop these athletes from coming out. These very Special Olympians would have not stopped until they achieve what a vast majority of people can never say they did; to be the recipient of an Olympic Medal. 

After the ski events were completed, lunch was served and the medal ceremony began. I had the honor to place the medals around these athletes' neck. The Olympic athlete who received a medal had a smile that was impeccable. Their smile would rival against the suns. The fellow Olympians who didn't hold a spot on the podium, were cheering, laughing, and smiling right along with them. A flash here, a flash there, all of this was truly deserving of "a Kodak moment". 

I cannot express the jubilation, heartfelt feelings of admiration I have for these Special Olympic athletes. Each one has endured multiple hurdles and obstacles in their lives which made the obstacles on the Boston Mills Brandywine Ski Resort a breeze, a wintery pleasant breeze.  I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a special event, and I know my six teammates feel exactly the same way I do. 

To help support this great cause, a one-time donation and a monthly donation are available at the Special Olympics website.   http://www.specialolympics.org/donate-to-charity.aspx 

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