May 12, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - At 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning on the football field and track at Whetstone High School, 10 Ohio State Buckeyes, head coach Urban Meyer, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, 732 special Olympians and a crowd of about 2,000 family members, friends and relatives recited aloud the Special Olympics creed:
"Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."
And then with a shout of "let the games begin," the 24th Columbus City Schools Special Olympics was underway.
Coach Meyer and the Buckeyes - Zach and Jacoby Boren, Chris Carter, Kyle Clinton, Chase Farris, Curtis Grant, Jack Mewhort, Joshua Perry, Ryan Shazier and Ron Tanner, as well as a half dozen members of the women's basketball team - were on hand to support the Special Olympians and to have some fun themselves.
"It's exciting to be out here," said Tanner, a sophomore cornerback and a City Schools product himself out of Eastmoor Academy. "The Special Olympians get excited to have us here, but I'm excited to be here to see them."
The day started with the traditional parade of athletes with teams from the various communities marching around the track while, for the 13th year, members of the Central Ohio Brass Band honored them by playing "Chariots of Fire."
"Chariots of Fire" is enough by itself to make one's eyes swollen and wet, but hearing it played on Mother's Day weekend while hundreds of Special Olympians are parading around the track is powerful enough to make even the biggest and the strongest pause for a moment and reflect on our blessings.
Sherrie Andrus, Special Olympics Coordinator for the Columbus Schools, felt blessed in the fact the day had, so far, raised $16,000.
"$16,000 is a whole huge amount of money for a non-profit, and I can't thank enough those who have donated," Andrus said.
She was also extremely pleased that there was a Scarlet and Gray presence at the event.
"It means a lot to the Special Olympics program and to all the athletes that Coach Meyer and the players are here," Andrus said. "These athletes are all so wrapped up in Ohio State and it makes them feel so important that the players and coach took the time to come out and watch and to see how they are doing."
Chris Carter, the redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Cleveland, put the day in perspective.
"It's humbling to be out here supporting the Special Olympians, but then again it isn't," Carter said. "It doesn't matter what age, what race, division or grade we are in because we are all athletes, and as athletes we're all the same. Athletes are athletes."
Athletes are athletes. They compete hard and try to be the best. They strive to win. Sometimes they do win. Sometimes they don't. But in the end, they are still athletes.
And on this day in Columbus, all 732 of those athletes were brave in their attempt.