Dear Editor,


 As Motherís Day approaches, we are reminded of how much mothers give to make life good for their children.  Whether they are working or stay-at-home, moms sacrifice their own well-being at times to provide physically and emotionally for their children.  Having worked closely with the families of Special Olympics over the past three years, I am absolutely amazed at the love, care and hard work that goes into parenting a child with special needs.  That constant care cannot end when the child becomes an adult; it is a life-time commitment.  Yes, these children are Godís beautiful miracles and a wonderful blessing, but I think these moms have a huge job and are many times never recognized or given thanks for it.  Local organizations such as Special Olympics and Autism Pensacola, among others, can give families a much-needed outlet and support for their unique life challenges from day-to-day.  I wanted to share a letter I received recently from the mother of a new athlete in our gymnastics program that really touched my heart.

She wrote: Hello Jessica,

I wanted to send this email to let you know how much I appreciate everything that you and your volunteers do.  Last night my daughter went to her first gymnastic practice at 1st city gym.  I was nervous because I have taken her to other gyms and it hasn't always worked out for us.  But last night, from the minute we walked in, we felt very welcomed.  My daughter had fun she was excited and relaxed which is so unusual for her.  The coaches were great, they were very patient and calm they talked directly to her and looked at her and treated her like an athlete.  And they never asked me once what her diagnosis was and I was so thankful because sometimes I just would like to be with my child not always explaining her disability.  My daughter had the biggest smile on her face throughout the practice. At that practice she and I had no worries. She was just another athlete and I am so grateful.  I am so happy I've been telling everyone all day at work about our experience and I've cried tears of joy twice today.

I just wanted you to know how amazing this experience has already been for me and my family and I canít wait for next Tuesday.  There are not enough words in my heart that would express how thankful I am for the Special Olympics and the volunteers and coaches. She signed the letter: Thank-you, Barbara.


Jessica Barrale, Pensacola