Our country would be better off today with people of ‘special needs’ in political positions than the choices we have today. Special Olympians have all of the qualities that original politicians, then called Statesman possessed. I realize some of you won’t take this article seriously and will consider that maybe I’m writing this as satire. However, as I prepared to write the article, I realized that it was entirely true. You see I have 30 years of experience to base my opinion on.
I have a little brother named Brandon. Well, he’s not so little, he’s 30 years old and an imposing, strong 210 pounds. However, he’ll always be my little brother. Brandon has defied odds all of his life, has been close to death and has even legally died three times. Brandon has Downs Syndrome. When Brandon was born he needed a full blood transplant. The hospital administration formed a panel and brought my mother into a room. There she was told that Brandon was a ‘Mongoloid’ and wouldn’t have a life worth living. The solution? The hospital would give him morphine so he wouldn’t be in pain and then would stop feeding him.
Challenges continued throughout his life. The school system didn’t want to bother to teach him to read and write. He now reads for hours a day and remembers everything he reads. He opens novels and political books and copies them word for word, inserting his name for the hero in the story, in notebooks. He’s not only capable of taking care of himself but he’s constantly helping out others and looks out for my mother when other family members are not around. I have tried to be a good brother but must admit that he’s better at it than I.
It is through him that I have met hundreds of Special Olympians throughout Kentucky. Whether it’s basketball, softball, bowling, winter sports or track and field I began to notice the similarities to my brother. Some of the players around the state will only see me at the regional tournament once a year. Yet, somehow, they still remember my name and details about me. Here’s a list of the qualities that are exaggerated among those with ‘special needs’ or disabilities that our politicians could learn from.
1. Special Olympians never hold back their emotions. When they’re excited they show it. When they’re happy they show it. When they’re sad, that’s right, they show it. Best of all, they never let you forget that they love you and care about your well being.
2. Special Olympians understand struggle. They fight and compete but not to win. No, they just want to be brave in the effort, to give it an honest try.
3. Special Olympians would give you the shirt off of their back. Believe me, I’ve had to hand them back many times. They would never take anything from you without giving you something in return, even if all they have to give is a hug and an “I love you”.
4. Special Olympians play fair. The Special Olympics organization emphasizes fairness and sportsmanship. Special Olympians take this to a level that would put the Red, the Blue and the Tea to shame.
5. Special Olympians don’t read teleprompters. They don’t need to. They tell you exactly what’s on their mind.
6. Special Olympians help out their fellow man. When a player falls or gets hurt all of the other players stop and rush to the other player to make sure they are okay. I have even seen players step out of the way of those with more difficulty to allow them a chance at a basket. You will never find this type of character in Washington until we change who we vote for.
7. Special Olympians won’t accept payoffs or corporate money. Really, it’s true. If you give most Special Olympians a chunk of cash, the first thing they’ll try to do is spread it around. Wow, what a concept!
8. Special Olympians remember your name. Why is this important? This is true because they have a sincere interest in you and pay attention. They listen to everything you say and remember the details because they truly care. Wouldn’t it be great to meet a Congressman like that?
9. Special Olympians would never make deceptive, negative attack ads. It’s just not in their nature. How refreshing after this month of nothing but that on the airwaves.
10. Special Olympians judge you by your actions. They don’t judge by your color, abilities, attractiveness, sexual orientation, what you do for a career or how much money you make.Brandon was offended when Lexington mayor, Jim Newberry, claimed that some people’s lives really don’t matter much.
Brandon asks Lexington to write him in for Mayor this Tuesday if you want an honest person who cares about this city and will remember each and every one of your names. (He also asked me to write an article about Special Olympics).
I hope you take the meaning of this article seriously. We need to return to the days when a politician was honest, honorable and could be considered a ‘Statesman’. If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to meet someone with those characteristics, I invite you to attend a Special Olympics sporting event. What you will find is a room full of people with the character we have been lacking in politics for far too long.
This election day, vote for someone with the characteristics of a Special Olympian. Better yet, write a Special Olympian in if your choices don’t qualify. If you ever want to talk politics…Brandon will discuss everything from the economy and the bailouts, corruption and politics to city planning. Send him an e-mail at my address and he’ll give you a call.