Step by Step 4 Special Needs
Throughout my life, I have learned to be compassionate, understanding, and patient towards others. These traits have been a part of me since an early age. I was blessed with a brother with Down Syndrome. My brother has led an active life in school and in our community. In this, he has been able to overcome his disability. Therefore, I believe that students with disabilities can achieve higher expectations than those established by the norms. I was astonished when I reached high school and became involved with the Life Skill Club. Most of the students with disabilities were not socially involved in any activities. I realized that my brother’s successes were opportunities he had embraced with the help of my parents. I wanted to get involved in promoting more opportunities in school and in our community to allow all students with disabilities to be successful.
My chance to make a difference came when I found out that the Special Olympic Games were moved sixty miles away. Our community would not host the games and my friends from the Life Skills Club would not be able to experience success. My vision to bring happiness, success and acknowledgement to my friends came in the form of a walkathon. This idea could bring the school and community together to celebrate the diversity in all of us.
Coming up with the idea was easy. Bringing it to life was a different story. In order for my vision to become a reality, countless hours and hard work was involved. I needed to get more people involved and I needed the community to be excited about the idea. With the support of the Life Skills Club which not only involves the students but, the teachers and parents, I was on the right track.
I had six lists to do and persuading everyone I saw was not on the list.
List # 1: Location- Permission for the use of the county lake had to be obtained from the County Judge and Commissioners’ Court. I need to get on their agenda.
List # 2: Participants- Convince them to participate and get parental consent.
List # 3: Advertisement- With not money for advertisement, I had to find ways to let others know about our project. Posters, radio ads, newspaper ads and television ads became available as I talked to different officials.
List # 4: Volunteers- I wanted to get other students involved in my project. Holding a leadership role in several clubs gave me the opportunity to invite them. Therefore, I met with the Student Council, the National Honor Society and the band members and received there support.
List # 5: Entertainment- I needed guest speakers, cheerleaders, music, games, t-shirts and food.
List # 6 Sponsorship- The idea came after talking to members from the community that wanted to get involved. My job was to ensure that every participant had a sponsor. Therefore, I contacted the local businesses to get involved.
The birth of “Step by Step 4 Special Needs” came to life on May 5, 2007 of my junior year. What a day! Opening the Ceremony were State Representative Tracy King and Andres Ricardo Morin from Univision out of San Antonio. Dr. Guillermo Urueta, a local doctor, spoke of the significance of the event and Father Carlos Pena blessed the event, participants, parents, organizers and volunteers.
The reward came as each participant was introduced and their sponsor was announced. The joy of hearing their name and being recognized could be seen on each participants’ face. Their moment to shine was priceless! The long hours of hard work was all worthwhile as I saw the excitement reflected on each their faces. Once introduced they moved on to start their journey down the path to complete the walkathon accompanied by either their parents, volunteers, friends or family members. They walked with such pride and enthusiasm as the C.C. Winn High School and Seco Mines Elementary cheerleaders cheered them on. After the walk, each participant received a “Step By Step 4 Special Needs” t-shirt, a goody bag from local businesses and a certificate of participation. Eating, dancing and playing games was next on the agenda. The sight of family members enjoying the day and talking to other families was an added bonus.
As the day unfolded, memories were created and the expectations of next year’s event were discussed. I look forward to being a part of it next year with more ideas.
Thanks to my big brother Jorge, whom I admire, I was motivated and challenged to get involved in the lives of these special children.