Joy In Sport

Brock, Pete, and Daxton at Special Olympics Missouri Gold Medal Gala

September 8, 2019

We hear it all the time, “Sports are supposed to be fun.” However, in more than 30 years of sport, my involvement with Special Olympics events have been the only consistent platform in sport where I have seen this statement lived and expressed with sheer joy. As a ten-year professional baseball player from a family of ten professional athletes, I have grown up on the playing fields and in the locker rooms of high-level sports, and I have continued to be immersed in it as a player, coach, and college athletics director.

Last night, my wife and I were fortunate to spend a wonderful evening as a guest at the annual Special Olympics Missouri’s (SOMO) Gold Medal Gala at the beautiful Norwood Hills Country Club in Jennings, MO. The love and joy for the wonderful accomplishments of our state’s Special Olympics athletes was demonstrable. Standing ovations abounded for the athletes, their coaches, and all supporters of this truly amazing world-wide non-profit organization, the Special Olympics.

My wife and I were blessed to be seated at the same table with two Gold Medal athletes, Daxton and Joseph. What was perhaps the most unique and inspiring aspect of the evening was when Special Olympics multi-Gold medalist, and co-host of the evening (along with Fox Channel 2 News Anchor Andy Banker), Brock Guseman was honored into the Special Olympics Missouri Hall of Fame. The two world-class Special Olympics athletes at our table, Daxton and Joseph, were genuinely filled with joy to see their teammate, colleague, competitor and friend receive this remarkable honor. The joy and exhilaration in their expressions were as pure and authentic as I have ever seen in sports. I realized right at that moment what most of us involved in the youth, amateur, or professional landscape of sport in America have been missing.

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Pete Paciorek
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