Every couple of years, for one reason or another, Beaver County Special Olympics has to change where the games are held. Which means that every couple of years David and I end up at last years venue. This year was no exception. For the last couple of years, the SO has been held at the Beaver Valley Area High School. This year... well, look at the picture on the left.
I started out the day very proud of myself. In the normal course of things Dude and I show up either just as the SO pledge is being read, or (what's more likely) a few minutes after. This year, determined to break an embarrassing tradition Dave and I got up 2 hours early, showered, dressed and hit the road with an hour to spare. (mostly because the Games had been delayed to start at 10:00). There had been appeals by the organizers for people to car pool, and not to show up early because of an event at the school that wouldn't let out until 9:30 thus causing the rescheduling. I was thinking that appeal was more than normally effective as Dave and I pulled up to BVHS because there was nobody there. We wandered around an empty park just south of the school until a very nice (but directionally challenged) lady in a minivan pulled up and told us we were at the wrong school. I should have known to give this woman limited credence as she was there because she had dropped her buddy-volunteer daughter at the same wrong school. But not being from the area, and desperate to get to the correct place, I tried (manfully?) to follow her directions.
Let me explain something. Pittsburghers give directions that are lost in time. I've looked for places all over the country and you get used to getting directions from local landmarks. I've gotten to places by turning when I see a certain cow. (true Kansas reference) But inevitably Pitt-directions are all about where things used to be. So since I had no idea where Westinghouse used to be (because it closed 10 years before I moved here) I was in for a long ride to nowhere. After a few minutes of frantic searching I found the road she suggested (oh, that's where Westinghouse was!) and raced off into the great unknown. She evidently forgot to mention the turn-off so , after a hail-mary left turn, we ended up two towns down the road from almost where I wanted to be. Which was much better than ending up in Ohio, which was where I was headed. A call to Raine at work (yet another reason to thank Gitche Manitou [Great Spirit] for Raine) got me the town, and after three back-and-forths through the mile long village I finally asked for directions from a very nice convenience store lady and, one turn and 4 minutes later we finally made it.
It's often amazed me that everyone at the Olympics knows Dave, but this time it was a lifesaver. We were 40 minutes late and wandering around aimlessly when Mrs. Yarosz snagged us out of a crowd of about 300. This amazing woman pulled Dave's tag (with his times and events) out from a small drawstring pouch, and pointed us in the right direction. Figuring that his first event (Long Jump) was bagged because we were now 45 minutes late for it, we proceeded to try to find his second event. We were halfway across the field when we heard Dave's (and my) name booming through the PA speakers telling us they were holding Dude's first event until we could get there! Talk about Superstar Treatment! (Pgh Penguins Max Talbot reference) Two of Dave's former Aides were running the event and waited the entire heat for him to get there and jump. After picking up Dave's Bronze Medal (glad they waited) we had just enough time to get over to the 50 meter run for his next event.
I didn't know how seriously Dave is starting to take this medal thing. If you look at the picture, you'll notice half way through that Dave is running neck and neck with another boy. What you can't notice is that he started out 5 feet or so further to his left at the beginning of the race. As the race proceeded Dave drifted slowly over to his right. The closer they got to the finish line, the closer he got to the other kid. 10 feet or so to go and Dave had 1/2 step on his opponent and threw out a right arm-bar in front of the kid's chest to keep it that way. 3 strides later, 2 feet or so from the finish line and Dave pushed off with his right arm to propel himself across the line. Then he ran through the timer's line to find the medal table. Actually circling around several times to look for me (or the kid's vengeful parents, I'm not sure) all the while there's this tall lanky high-school kid trying to track him down so he could give his name to the medal-ladies. The timer was chuckling as he caught up to Dave saying, "I guess whatever it takes to win, huh?" Now if this had been that other Olympics the 2nd place kid's country would be screaming protests, but Dude didn't care. He sat in his winner's chair (as I backed off so angry parents wouldn't know who I was), got his gold medal, and was ready to go on to the next event.
Now in last years SO segment I lamented how the lady that runs the Soft Ball Toss has her own very rigid ideas on how to run her event. Unfortunately she was in charge yet again. So not only did Dave and I have our first break between events, but the event itself started 30 minutes late. (again) Luckily for us Dave had the 3rd heat, it was full, and they were running 4 heats at a time. So once we got started we were done in 10 minutes and we could pick up his silver medal and concentrate on more important things: Going home to games and our traditional post-game Wendy's lunch. Once again we had met scads of people that wanted to talk to Dave, and several who would talk to me. Dude got his medals, and his Bacon-cheeseburgers, and I went home with jaws hurting from smiling so much. All in all another typical, crazy, wonderful time at the Special Olympics. God! I love this job!
PS. I also got the first non-goofy-faced posed picture of Dude. So bonus points for me.