I've done a lot of volunteer work, different causes, but there is one organization that I have known about since I was a young girl.
The Special Olympics.
I have two uncles who were born with special needs. They will never be able to live on their own. My grandmother always wanted my uncles, Michael and Marty to be involved in activities. The one activity that they both seemed to enjoy was bowling.
My grandmother enrolled them in the Lincoln Lions bowling league. The league also hosted dances and Christmas parties, plenty to keep them active. The league turned out to be a place that my grandmother was able to talk to other parents about the needs of their children, these women became some of her closes friends.
After my grandmother's unexpected death, her remaining children wanted my uncles Michael and Marty's lives to remain intact as much as possible. It was very difficult for my grandfather to take care of Michael and Marty because he himself was in a wheel chair and was unable to drive.
Not once did my mom or any of my aunts and uncles discuss placing Michael and Marty into an institution. Instead what they did, which I think was just incredible; they hired two nurses. These two nurses worked full time with rotating shifts. There was also someone who was hired to come in and cook meals and keep house for them and for my grandfather.
As for bowling, that continued too. A schedule was created for doctor appointments and a rotation was put in place so that every Saturday morning Michael and Marty went bowling. This continued for years, my cousins and I would also volunteer some of our Saturdays which also included a stop at McDonalds or Burger King. Michael and Marty enjoyed stopping at these places to fuel up after bowling all morning.
After my grandfather died one of my aunts moved into the home so that they would feel secure and I also think it was easier for them to deal with their father's passing, with her in the house.
I remember one Saturday, Michael was tired of bowling and decided to go for a walk. He up and left without a word to anyone. I had to chase him out the door and convince him to go back inside. Nothing I said seemed to work and then an idea came to mind, I told him that if he went back inside I would buy him a soda. That worked and for the rest of the morning he sat next to me and we watched Marty finish up.
Over the years I've helped the Special Olympics Committee decorate the bowling alley. Decorating with balloons and I learned how to make giant balloon clusters, which looked rather nice at the entryway.
Over the years my Uncle Michael's health has deteriorated, but nothing can keep him from that bowling alley. He may only play one or two rounds, but his heart and his will are strong. My Uncle Marty has seemed unfazed by time itself, he is not as talkative as Michael, but he is certainly not afraid to speak up when he wants something.
My Grandmother Rose would have been 92 years old today, she may be gone, but she certainly did leave behind a legacy. Family and faith were always on her mind and dear to her heart. My grandparents had eleven children. Two of them have special needs, yet they most certainly made all of our lives special.