Wednesday was a day that Special Olympics District 6 athletes came together at Heber Springs High School and Harding University in Searcy.  Schools represented at Heber Springs High School, in addition to HSHS, were Concord, Mountain View, Searcy Jr. High, Sulphur Rock, Batesville, Cedar Ridge, Southside-Batesville Jr. and Sr. High and Eagle Mountain Elementary. I attended this event for a couple hours and it made my heart smile. In today’s world, where bullies are brave because they can hide behind a computer monitor, I saw no evidence of bullies at the Special Olympics event.

Parents of special needs children see how cruel people can be sometimes. But at the event I attended, there were smiles and hugs and lots of laughter. Special Olympics uses this quote, "Let me win.  But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." as an Athlete's Oath. Boy, did I see this in action on Wednesday! Not just from the SO athletes either. I saw 14 HSHS students who manned each of the stations where the athletes tried their hand at dribbling a basketball, bouncing a basketball against the wall, standing in a circle passing the ball back and forth and attempting different shots. Unlike in most sporting events, these athletes cheered each other on, over and over. When one might be struggling, several would jump in to help and encourage.

I watched the HSHS students interacting with the athletes in such a caring way, it gave me hope for the future. Seriously. Parents of those students, you should be very proud indeed. Sadly, in our society, so many times the news media hypes up the bad aspects of our society, and ignore the good that is there. The way I see it, kids like these ought to be bragged on, rewarded and praised. Most of them, however, just seem happy to help and from what I observed, seemed to be having as much fun as the athletes. I only pray they grow up to lead our towns, counties, states and nation someday. I truly believe they are our leaders of tomorrow.

I saw quite a few people in the stands wearing t-shirts in support of the Concord athletes and visited with the Elementary Principal, Steve Tarver who shared he had encouraged students and parents to attend today’s event in support of all the athletes. The bleachers showed how much they support their athletes, as it was a sea of purple t-shirts.

This wasn’t the only event for Special Olympics on Wednesday. At Harding University in Searcy, there were two basketball games where athletes from the Community School of Cleburne County known as “Project Independence” played The Sunshine School and defeated them in both games.

I know this was a departure from my usual column material, but I was so impressed with the students and staff at HSHS that I just had to recognize and thank them for their kindness to all yesterday.

Until next time...