Whether you are new to following our journey or have been following for the past year, regardless, I feel that it’s important to tell you how Game Changers came about. This may just look like just another Adaptive Sports Program, but over time I hope you can see it is much more than that. Rather, that we are using sports as a vehicle for a bigger purpose. I am happy to finally start blogging about my story and where I want to go with Game Changers over time. First, I’d like to tell you a little of why I do what I do, and why Game Changers was created.
I realized a few years ago how important it is to work in an environment that I absolutely love, and being surrounded by like minded individuals. Weird, right? I think a good majority of us at one point or another have been ambitious in finding a job where everything just felt right: finding your dream job (they exist). You wake up and for the most part, you feel good doing what you’re doing but more importantly, who you’re doing it with. In the most unselfish of selfish ways possible, one reason I started Game Changers was for me. Why? It makes me feel good doing what I’m doing. Actually, it makes me feel great. Everything just feels for those moments and I’m surrounded by people who are good, genuine, and who have a heart to help others.
Even when things are not going as smoothly as I had planned during an event, still, things just feel okay. I know everything is going to be okay. Between Flag Football, Soccer, several sports clinics and Adaptive Schools Sports that myself and my volunteers have put on, as nervous as I am putting those on, in the process and even in the end, everything always just feels right. Why not continue doing that? Why not be a part of something that makes me feel fulfilled?
We always talk about finding happiness and honestly, it’s getting old. Sounds weird hearing it from someone that is pretty optimistic about life. But finding happiness is too vague. How can we break that down? For me, it’s in finding fulfillment that leads to happiness. Being in the service of others consistently creates a fulfilling life. One that I choose to make. This may not be a full time job, we actually have zero employees at Game Changers, but I do treat this as a job. Regardless, I have the opportunity to bring in volunteers that have the heart to help other people. Game Changers has children in the program who are really good kids and make the world a better place, simple as that. Again, selfishly, it makes my life better. So for me, the better I am, the better it makes my life, the more I want to do for this organization because I really do feel like we have a great thing going here and I’m determined to continue with it.
Now that is not to say that every day is a great day. I may make it sound like my life is easy but in reality it’s not. Life’s not perfect. Negative things happen to absolutely everybody in this world and some worse than others. Whether it’s relationships, financial, stress or simply can’t catch a break with anything, bad things happen to everyone including me. One thing I’ve learned to do is to focus on how I react to those negative moments that occur in my life. They happen, almost daily. You can’t escape them. Learning how to react though, there are at least two options: Sulk in it and hope somebody feels sorry for you and you can stir the pot a bit more. Or you can say, “well that really sucked” and simply move on. Do I get stressed? Yep. Frustrated? Yes. Angry, upset? You betcha. Let it suck for a bit but in the meantime figure out which option you want to take.
It’s not simple though, but what I’ve learned is that all those little bad moments that happen in our lives, somebody out there has it ten times worse. A friend bailed on you last minute, bummer. Somebody out there lost a parent or sibling. You’re late to work and you just got caught in traffic and now you’re frustrated at every red light and won’t let anyone in your lane, bummer. Somebody just got let go from their job because of cutbacks and now they’re wondering how they’re going to take care of their family. Most of my problems are what I like to call “first world problems”. We stress that we’re at 10% on our phone and we forgot our charger at home. A child in Africa is wondering if they’re going to eat today. First world problems… Remember that. Bad things happen. How you react to them is up to you. I make sure I try not to let my bad days hurt anyone else close to me. Now…on to the fun stuff.
A very big reason why Game Changers is so important is, first and foremost, I don’t think people actually sit and think about the fact that the Athletes in our organization, those with either a physical or cognitive disability, did not choose to have a disability when they were born. They were born with a disability. And because they were born with a disability, they do not get every opportunity like you and I do. Let’s face it, they don’t.
Lately there has been a great push for inclusion, yet there will always be a need for more. If we, as Game Changers, can fix that problem even just the slightest, then we’re all winning. Game Changer’s way of closing that gap is by offering sports for children with and without disabilities. Regardless of ability, every child can play to their fullest potential and they should be given that opportunity, just like any other kid. They should be cheered for, rewarded, heck even idolized for what they are doing just like High School and College Athletes. Parents should have the opportunity to watch their kids play and have those feelings of being nervous and excited all at once, just like any other parent that has a child playing sports.
These Athletes get to play in a league where they are able to grow and develop their skills over time and gain confidence doing an activity they don’t normally get to do. This can give them confidence to do activities other than sports knowing they have accomplished something new before.
I noticed at our latest Lacrosse Clinic when a Game Changer Athlete arrived, they were greeted with high fives and hugs and asked how they were doing by another Game Changer Athlete from a different school. For most of the kids, the only time they get to see each other is through this program, and it’s encouraging to see the friendships they are forming. Moments like that are so important because so many children have friendships created through sports.
This is just a glimpse of what I would like to do with this blog. I want to get more in depth with the work and create a connection with you, our followers, so you can see why this is important. I really believe this is truly just the beginning and hope you follow along Game Changers journey.
Together we can all make a difference in the lives of those who haven’t had the opportunity to be included before. And honestly, you will likely find, as I did, that the biggest difference will be created within yourself.