Hurling the shotput at the Local Meet.

A cold, misty rain hung over the stadium at the Council Rock North High School track. We’d been there countless times before, but I don’t remember an all-day-soaker event like today. Nevertheless, we were present, along with Bryan and his roommate, for the meet.

Upon our arrival, we found the two roommates taking cover in a car from the elements. Walking to the first event of the shotput, both were shivering from the cold. Bryan was competing against three others in that event and came in third place with a bronze, not his strongest event. BUT, his form is always stellar and he improved the distance thrown with each attempt. All you could ask for.

Next was the 100 meter racewalk. Bryan managed to stay neck and neck with his competitor, but, as you can see in the photo below, long legs DO give a certain advantage on the track! He came away with the silver.

And, now, for the ultimate bummer of the day. It dampened all of our spirits much more than the weather. Bryan’s next event wasn’t until 1:00 – giving him an hour and 15 minutes to grab a soft pretzel and a hot chocolate and warm up in his roommate’s car in the parking lot by the track.

Mom and dad headed to the Lancaster Farmer’s Market in Newtown to grab a fresh pulled pork sandwich for lunch during the lull. Upon our return at 12:40, the track seemed abandoned. The booth where the announcer sat was closed up tight. We called Bryan and his roommate. They came to the track immediately and were devastated to learn that Bryan’s last two events – the 400 M racewalk and 4X100 relay had come and gone without him. His name was called over the loudspeaker but neither heard the announcement from inside the car. The coach was not happy. It was the first time in a competition working with the new coach. Not a good way to start.

Needless to say, Bryan was quite bummed about the turn of events. We slinked off the field with our tails tucked between our legs, the terse words of the coach burning in our ears.

Trying to buoy Bryan’s spirits, we invited he and his roommate to have some lunch at the Farmer’s Market, too. Afterwards, an ice cream treat at the Zebra Striped Whale in Newtown perked him up a bit more. We reminisced about the good old days thirty-five years ago when Bryan first competed in Special Olympics at that same location…several years before his roommate was even born! After those competitions, we always went to Goodnoe’s restaurant, now long gone from the corner of routes 413 and 532, where Bryan always ordered a cone of peanut butter ripple covered in chocolate jimmies. Today’s fare was a variation on that long-ago theme – peanut butter ripple with Reese’s pieces and peanut butter cups mixed in . He didn’t finish it, but it seemed to put a smile on his face after such a bummer of an afternoon.

Hopefully, he will still be allowed to compete next week at Kutztown University where the District meet will be held on Saturday. It’s been a rough haul this spring for him to get to this point. His roommate and he have had to schlep to the other end of the county for training practices at 8:00 a.m. each Saturday morning for several months. Bryan has repeatedly bemoaned the fact that he is the only one from his old team (which used to practice minutes away from his apartment) to make the jaunt down south and continue with Special Olympics since his two coaches retired last year. He misses his old teammates and coaches. But he still has that determination and competitors’ spirit. I certainly hope he will be allowed to continue to be a part of the new team, starting another chapter in his lengthy Special Olympics journey .

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