Time is never something I give up very easily. Typically most of my free time includes making sure my home is kept up, my work is completed each day, and that I have taken care of my family. I was excited for the opportunity to volunteer at the Endeavor Games, however as the date quickly approached I began to consider my time and how much I had to offer that particular week. Having always been poor at keeping commitments, I decided since I had already given the Endeavor Games my commitment that I was sticking to it.
Military AppreciationWednesday night I served at the Military dinner welcoming the Veterans who would be participating in weekend events. I’ve never been humbled like that before standing amongst young men and women who paid a price for my freedom. Many of these men and women had lost a leg, both legs, an arm or were wheelchair-bound fighting for our country. It wasn’t just my time I was giving them; it was my sincere gratitude for what they have done for me. And it was a life lesson. If these men and women could stand tall, smile, and enjoy life I need to do a better job at being thankful for what I have and living the fullest life, despite my shortcomings for the greater good. The dinner may have taken my time that night, but I came away humbled, thankful, and inspired.
Adaptive SportsFriday afternoon I helped with registration where I got to meet athletes from across the country as they confirmed their events for the weekend and received their info and t-shirts. It was a pleasure meeting these brave kids and their families and seeing young adults excited to compete. I heard one young man walk away saying that he was “going to set a world record.” I was his fan right away!
I was soon transferred to the archery event on the soccer field where I had one of the best afternoons I can remember. I was paired up with four young men ranging in ages from 8 to 16. I quickly learned the ropes of scoring, where to stand, and what to do. My job of scoring each round turned into getting to know the athletes, their families, learn their stories, and become an encouragement.
My favorite player was the youngest in the whole event. He was about 8 years old with purple braces that rose from his shoes to cover his shins. He squinted in the sun as he aimed his arrows but seemed to miss every time. He was almost too big for his small bow that he was still learning on for his first competition. Some of the leaders on the field would come by to encourage him and give him techniques. His father watched from the sidelines and quietly encouraged him. As the rounds moved on he continued to miss the target and hit the grass time after time. Soon we started to encourage him more and more “just a little higher Garrett,” “Anywhere on the target Garrett,” “You can do it Garrett.”
Poor Garrett, he shared a target next to a young man from Arizona, a modern-day Robin Hood. Kevin was 13 and he had participated in archery since he was 4 years old. Not only did he hit the target every time, he never missed and rarely got outside of the bullseye. He was all boy and all of 13! He gawked at the medical students helping out at the event and spoke highly of his long hair cut stating “it’s how the ladies like it.” Aside from the metal artificial leg on his right side he was just like any other kid. He smiled with braces filling his teeth.
As we continued to encourage all the players we began to see Garrett start to improve. At first it was just an arrow or two on the target. Not close to the bullseye but he made it on the target. Then it moved to an 8 point shot to which we celebrated with pictures, high fives, fist bumps, and pictures! As the rounds moved on we became a unified archery family encouraging one another, helping with equipment and enjoying the spirit of competition. We would brag about scores, compare rounds and cheer for each effort. Then the event came to a close. We shared pictures together, took pictures of score sheets, and celebrated a great event. As we all started our separate ways, Kevin removed his sunglasses that he had worn all afternoon. He turned to Garrett and said “thank you” as he handed Garrett the glasses. Garrett had unselfishly given Kevin his sunglasses early on in the event to help him see through the bright sun. It was a gesture of kindness and humility, all from an 8 year old. As I said my “good byes” and “see you next years” I walked away with a smile and gratefulness that I had just offered the one thing I hold dear, my time to the greatest 8 year old I have ever met. I will always look back with fondness and respect on the athletes and the event. I am proud to say I have become an official archery judge and can’t wait until next year when I can see Garrett and the others again.
Find out more about the UCO Endeavor Games here: http://www.ucoendeavorgames.com/.
About the Author:
Tracee has worked at 180 Medical for 7 years. She often takes on many different roles here, but her main job title is Purchasing Manager.