Be honest – did you know there were three "Olympics" (summer and winter count as one), let alone the difference between them?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red will admit that before Black let her know that the Paralympics Closing Ceremony took place over Labor Day weekend, she didn't even know there was a Paralympics.


So, Red's experience as a straight-A student kicked in, and she decided to go online and learn more. She also, begrudgingly, realized that this was one of those examples of when technology and the internet were extremely useful, as in the past it would have meant going to the library or hoping that you had an encyclopedia at home. However, she stopped short of looking for stories on social media. (She'll be the first to admit, technology makes her feel "old.")

Anyway, she was fascinated to learn that for decades not only do the Paralympics occur right after each Olympics, in the same host city, but that they follow a similar schedule. Such as they include Opening and Closing Ceremonies filled with ritual and pageantry, which Red has always felt is one of the best parts of the Olympics.

But it was really the difference between the Paralympics and Special Olympics which intrigued Red the most, especially as her younger daughter had helped coach a local Special Olympics volleyball team and found it to be one of the most rewarding things she'd ever done. And while it turned out there were significant differences, they had one important thing in common,

I now know that the Special Olympics is for athletes with intellectual and physical disabilities, and every person's accepted and welcomed, regardless of ability or disability, and Paralympic athletes must fulfill specific eligibility criteria (which include physical, visual, and/or intellectual impairments). But as a mom, I find both Special Olympic and Paralympic athletes to be incredibly inspiring, determined athletes who have overcome challenges that most of us have never even thought about, let alone experienced.

Black started to mention the concept of "inspiration porn" to Red, and how some people look at those with disabilities as inspirational solely because they are disabled (Black was fascinated by the TEDx talk where Sheila Young first used the term). But then realized Red's introduction to the Paralympics needed to be about the celebration of this year's games and how they were about unity, diversity, and overcoming a common obstacle (the pandemic),

Although I do not watch the Olympics or the Paralympics in real-time, I am interested in the various stories, because as I have said countless times, stories are powerful. And, every story I watched highlighted people who are world champion athletes. People who are inspirational because they are more than just skills – they are people whose stories inspire us with their humanity, hard work, and dedication.

Of course, the Paralympics, like the Olympics, has its stories of heartache (such as how a Malaysian shot putter won a gold and set a world record only to be disqualified for turning up three minutes late to the final), but also political triumph (the Afghans athletes who managed to get to Tokyo), and romance (the visually impaired runner who received a fourth-place finish but then a marriage proposal from her guide and partner).

And now we're both looking forward to the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris …

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