Friday, May 31, 2013

How I got involved with the individuals

In May 2011, I had the honor of chaperoning Coshocton County's Board of DD's annual prom. My 4-H group was asked by the planner of the prom to help out with the event. When my Advisor asked me, I knew I would really enjoy it, so I volunteered a Friday evening. I arrived to the dance location in plenty of time before the dance to help set up the place in their Hawaiin theme. My duty once the clients began coming was to stand at the door to greet them and give them each a Hawaiin lay. Once everyone had arrived and the lays were all handed out, the dancing fun began. I got the pleasure to dance the night away with some pretty awesome people that completely changed my life forever!
You could be the worst dancer in the world and still be a superstar dancer in those individuals' eyes. They don't care how good of a dancer they or you are, as long as everyone is having fun. The smiles never left the clients' faces the whole night.
A little after 8p.m. when the dance was over, my 4-H club began to pick up and clean all the decorations up. A fellow in a green Health Services of Coshocton shirt that was with a client the whole evening came up to me and asked me if I could talk to his client for him. He said that his client had been watching me all night and just wanted to say hey to me. I agreed, but little did I know that the client wasn't the one that wanted to talk to me to get my name and say was the man with the client!
Later that week I got a text from him. Come to find out, his name was Devin Rivera and he wanted to know if he could take me on a date! He said he couldn't quit watching me at the dance, but thought I was older than I was and was too scared to come and ask me for my information.
That client that he took to the dance that night I had the opportunity to work with one-on-one with for nine short months after Devin got me a job where he worked. That client passed away in April of 2012, but he always told me that "If it weren't for Devin, you would be mine!" He always told me how lucky Devin was to have me as his girlfriend and that he would kick his butt if he ever did anything to hurt me. He had my back no matter what! He was such a special man and will forever be missed.
To this day, Devin and I are still together and we both still work at Health Services of Coshocton, where we provide one-on-one time with the clients. We also coach the Hopewell Indians Basketball team and the Hopewell Indians Softball team. Our life revolves around those clients! They can brighten anyone's day!

A Little About the Hopewell Indians

   The Hopewell Indians of Coshocton County is the Coshocton County Developmental Board of Disabilites. This is a Special Olympics program for the disabled of our county to get the opportunity to participate in sports such as Basketball, Cheerleading, Softball, and Bowling. The county board also hosts an annual Special Olympics Track and Field Day for the individuals to take part in as well. The sports programs are open to any individual of any age, ranging from having an IEP in school or to being physically disabled. No one is discreminated against and no one is turned away from participating in these programs. The sports teams of Coshocton travel to surrounding counties, where they play other developmentally disabled teams. For instance, the Hopewell Indians play counties including, but not limited to: Guernsey, Muskingum, Bellmont, Tuscarawas and Delaware.
   Each sports team goes through practices and a schedule of games, just as a High School sports team would. The bowling team here in Coshocton normally meets every Sunday to practice bowl three games, and they compete in tournaments usually three times throughout their season. The Basketball team practices two times a week for the season, which generally lasts from November to February, with tournaments in March. During the regular game season, they play on average of two games per week. The tournaments are set up just like High School, with Hopewell being in Division II. The tournaments are single elimination and are held in places like Columbus, depending on the team's division. This past March, the Hopewell Indians played their tournament games in Columbus against other Division II teams.
   My first experience of getting to go and watch a Hopewell event, is when I went to watch the basketball team, which is pictured above. I went to a game during the 2011-2012 season, after I began dating their head coach. That year the team consisted of about twenty players and this past year they had about 40 players. I'm not going to lie, at first I thought the games would be slow paced and boring. But to my surprise, they were the most entertaining sports games I have ever been to. Those kids amazed me that night. I would much rather go watch a Special Olympics sports game than a regular High School athletic event. Those players are always smiling and laughing, they don't care if they are winning or losing, and they do not care if they make a basket or miss it. They just thrive on the thrill of being out in the public eye and having people watch and cheer them on. If you ever get a chance to go watch an athletic event of the developmentally disabled, I totally recommend that you do it! I can promise you that it will be worth your while!