Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for the Opportunity

The Thanksgiving holiday is one of many things - family, giving, food, fun and sport to name a few. It is all those things to me, but it often becomes a holiday of reflection too. So when I came across an email from earlier this year about one of our Special Olympics athletes, Alcino Pereira, I began reflecting on one thing I'm not sure we take enough time to be thankful for - opportunity.

The opportunity to take on a new challenge; to interview for a job; to sit down at a table with our loved ones and share a meal; or for Alcino, the opportunity to escape, if briefly, the reality of his war torn home country with something as simple as a daily run.

I first met Alcino in 2007 at our World Summer Games in Shanghai. His home country of East Timor (officially Timor-Leste) had just started a Special Olympics program.  Alcino was their first athlete, and their lone representative at the Games.  Though he does not speak, I'll never forget the excitement his eyes and body language conveyed at having the opportunity to be the first person to represent his country at a World Games.

I remember Alcino finished last in his competition.  I also remember a stadium full of people rising to their feet as he entered the home stretch of his 10,000 meter run, cheering him on as he crossed the finish line.

Today, I'm thankful for the opportunity to know Alcino and to share the email and pictures below to give you the opportunity to know him and share his story.

Dear Tim,

Attached are photos of Alcino, who participated in the Timor Leste Marathon held in Dili on June 20.

Alcino, who completed the 42km run in more than 4 hours, was personally congratulated and recognized by both the Prime Minister and President of Timor Leste.

Best wishes

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