From the moment we exit the womb, we are taught to strive for the best and reach for the stars. Whether it’s making good grades, being accepted by a great college, climbing the corporate ladder or winning a sport championship, winning is where it’s at. However, there are occasional moments when we are reminded that winning or losing pales in comparison to how we play the game.
One such moment happened to me recently. I am on the board of directors for the Treasure Valley Girls on the Run chapter. GOTR is an organization that teaches young girls to celebrate their unique talents as a means of building self-esteem. Each GOTR season culminates in a 5K walk/run, an event in which this celebration of self stands prominent. A few weekends ago, I was the official GOTR photographer at the Hornet Run, a 5K event in East Boise. What a treat to observe 300+ girls rounding the corner to the finish line, all through a close-up lens. I observed dads running proudly with their daughters and moms (often!) working to keep up with the girls they treasured so mightily.
Others held hands with best friends as they mustered the energy to sprint those last fifty yards. Not even my ocean of tears could keep pace with the sea of pink! Towards the very end of the race, as the runners thinned out and the sweepers approached, along came an adorable child from Hidden Springs, surrounded on all sides by other site members and coaches. She was extraordinary– she has Down’s Syndrome, and though she came in nearly last, that was the last worry on her mind. In fact, she wore a smile on her face that no one could have erased. I looked in her eyes – with tears streaming down my face – to see an unmistakable feeling of joy and pride. That expression will forever be imprinted in my memory. Her coach told me she was an amazing girl. “It was such a pleasure to have her in our group this season. The running never seemed to faze her and she never complained. It was also incredible to watch the other girls interact with her — always supportive and encouraging. As we trained for the 5K, she would often pick different girls to run a lap with her and none of them ever turned her down regardless of their goal that day.” Despite competitive instincts and the desire to achieve, I hope we can all learn a lesson from this special child. Whether it’s running a 5K or going through the motions of the everyday life, enjoying the ride and embracing the present moment can pave the way to happiness. Being number one could never trump this far more noble goal.