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LETTER: Cannot believe what I saw

To the Editor:

Just a note to say thank you to all the wonderful volunteers in Baldwin who put on The Red Cedar Special Olympics Basketball Tournament. I hope everyone who worked the tournament was able to witness all the great things that happened on this day.

First and foremost, our athletes were given an opportunity to compete after many weeks of hard practice. Secondly, a lot of people were able to see the abilities that these athletes put on display and have a new found respect for people with cognitive disabilities.

Both of those things are great, but there is more to the story. The compassion and energy I saw from the volunteers was like no other tournament we have been involved in.

I can hardly begin to list all the acts of kindness I saw from volunteers young and old. Let me add a few things that I saw and I hope it does it justice.

I saw volunteers shadow teams all day to make sure every detail was covered. I saw volunteers engage athletes, who were total strangers in a way that made your heart melt.

I saw cheerleaders pose for pictures with teams that will cherish the moment forever. I saw referees stop the game and teach rules to our athletes.

I saw parents in concessions pack lunches for the athletes at Greenfield so they did not have to walk in the snowy weather. I saw volunteers asking athletes to autograph their T-shirts as if they were Aaron Rodgers.

We all heard a wonderful welcome and a beautiful national anthem, both which sent chills up and down our spine. The Athlete Olympic oath set just the right competitive tone.

But it was the people, the people of Baldwin, who provided such an electric moment for our teams. For that we are forever grateful and humbled by your community's kindness.

Dan Gainey 

Red Cedar Special Olympics