Printing Partners employees followed the Special Olympics USA National Games last month with a keen interest. Grace, daughter of Printing Partners employee Carin Vittorio, was part of the delegation of 113 Indiana athletes, Unified partners, coaches and support staff who traveled to the event in Lincoln, Nebraska. Part of the group traveled by commercial flight, but Grace was one of 45 members of Team Indiana who had the privilege of flying on eight private jets that were part of the Cessna Citation Airlift organized by Harrison Ford.
Though none of us was particularly familiar with Special Olympics, the National Games took on a special significance. We had an Olympian within our family. We watched Carin as she helped Grace prepare for the adventure. We collected money and well wishes to make the trip more comfortable. And we waited for emails to mark the progress of each event.
And the emails arrived. First one. . .then two, three and finally four. . .each sharing the triumph of a gold medal.
The excitement and pride were unbelievable. But even more telling was the lesson that Grace taught us.
Grace is autistic. And as an autistic young woman she processes information differently. But with the proper coaching she functions in a traditional academic environment.
Not only functions, but as her medals demonstrate, she excels. Grace taught us that labels merely muddy the water and prevent us from appreciating the true spirit that swims beneath the surface.