Time is something I don’t give up 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 reconsider 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.
On Wednesday 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 among young men and women who paid a price for my freedom. Many of these men and women had lost limbs or were wheelchair-bound. It wasn’t just my time I was giving them; it was my sincere gratitude for what they have done for me. I came away humbled, thankful, and inspired
On Friday afternoon, I helped with registration. 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 leg 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 tips for his technique. 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.”
Garrett shared a target next to a young man from Arizona, a modern-day Robin Hood. Kevin was 13, and he has been participating in archery since he was 4 years old. Not only did he hit the target every time, he rarely hit outside of the bullseye. 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. Then it moved to an 8 point shot to which we celebrated with high fives, fist bumps, and pictures!
As the rounds moved on, we became a unified archery family helping and encouraging one another 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. After I said my goodbyes and told them all I hoped to see them again next year, I walked away with a smile and gratefulness that I had just offered the one thing I hold dear, my time, to the greatest kids 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’s Endeavor Games event.
Find out more about the UCO Endeavor Games here: http://www.ucoendeavorgames.com/.