Yesterday I visited the Whitehouse.
It was a Tuesday morning at 9:00 in the morning- I kept thinking that this may have been what the weather felt like during 911 when the Pentagon was hit.
I was surrounded by the members of the Olympic Team that competed in Beijing- including Michael Phelps.
The President, whom I'm not the biggest fan of, but whose position I respect spoke to us for about 25 minutes.
He told stories about the athletes he met while in Beijing. He used the words Olympic and Paralympic Teams. The only Paralympic Athlete he mentioned was a soldier and athlete named Melissa Stockwell who was injured in the current conflict in Iraque. Jen, as the flag barer for Paralympic opening Ceremonies presented President and Mrs. Bush with one of our team jackets. Interestingly, they did not announce Jen by name. Jen has been working for Paralympic gold for nearly twenty years. These Paralympics she carried the flag and brought home the gold.
I was struck by so many things while visiting the Whitehouse. One was how honored I am to be a Paralympian.
President Bush makes a little foible in his speech when he says, "To members of the USA Paralympic Team- we're proud to call you a Olympians." I want to be what I am- a paralympian. For my fellow paralympians have taught me about the joy that comes from adversity.
One of my Paralympic moments happened when I was nominating Jen to carry the flag. My team asked me to speak on Jen's behalf 30 minutes before the meeting. I went into a room with team captains from every sport. The stories presented were unbelievable feats of courage and hope. There was a cancer survivor, an air plane crash survivor, several vets that have served our country...
I spoke about Jen and how she has tried to better the lives of people who are blind through sport by building the sports education camps, her work at Lake Shore Foundation and as a goalball athlete. Helping secure Jen's nomination was an honor.
This really confirmed for me that I am good on my feet and I should continue to pursue public speaking.
Back to the President though...
This was his best quote- and though I don't like George Bush, it is a quote I won't soon forget.
USOC | News | A Presidential Day of Olympic Proportions: "'You amaze the world with your talent, grace and sportsmanship. You inspire children to chase their dreams. You will be champions forever.'"