Hugs of Joy and Tears of Delight
Hosting athletes for the World Games was an opportunity that was given to many North Carolinians in both small & metropolitan areas. Hearts were touched and friendship bonds were made that will last for ever. Melissa Buscher (in the middle) of WRAL-TV News was one of those that was able to host two of the Special Olympics team members. The two team members were from Peru. Carlos (on the right) was cautious & shy while Freddy (on the left) was always curious and excited about life. Melissa shares some of her experiences with us.
As we drove home from the airport, Freddy made sure that he touched every button in the car and let it be known that, “He Wanted To Drive.” Before we got home, he took a neatly wrapped gift box out of his duffel bag and presented us with a set of knives for their American family. A beaming smile appeared on their faces as they saw a huge Spanish “Welcome” sign and a Peruvian flag in our front yard. Carlos asked if the lake in our backyard is where we got our drinking water.
The next five days were an amazing experience of discovery. Many Bar-B-Que cookouts, luncheons, dinners and luaus in the evening were part of the Southern hospitality. They enjoyed it all, although it was difficult on their stomachs at first. Before long, they were helping themselves to soft drinks in the refrigerator. In our time of relaxation, we learned that Carlos was fond of romantic music, while Freddy bopped to pop music.
On the last night with us before they moved to the Olympic Village, Freddy got his chance to “DRIVE.” My husband, Greg, took Freddy and Carlos to an amusement park where he could drive a go-cart. For the first time since his visit, Freddy spoke directly to us and yelled, “UNO MAS.” That meant ‘one more’ and Freddy wanted one more ride.
The next morning before Carlos and Freddy were to move to Olympic Village, Freddy became upset because he didn’t want to leave his American family. He hugged us tightly and began to cry for the unconditional love that had been shown to him.
We arrived two hours early at the Opening Ceremonies just to give them a hug and to tell them to look for our sign in the stands. Carlos spotted us quickly as he walked into the stadium and gave us a big smile and hand wave. We were able to attend almost every game that they were participating in and when their medal game was over, we knew that they had won a bronze medal. Carlos and Freddy ran to us in the crowd, gave us a big hug and didn’t want to let go. From the opening ceremonies to the medal ceremonies, tears of happiness and pride were shared by all for they had represented their country well.
With time drawing short, Carlos wanted to know if we would be his American parents. We assured him that we would be his adopted parents, but he knew that it was almost time to say “adios”. Freddy gave us big hugs & Carlos held us tight and wiped away our tears. Their warm hearts and spirit would live within us forever.
When the next opportunity is given and you are able to share “Hugs of Joy & Tears of Delight,” consider becoming a host family.