Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ED Video and Final Pictures

Here's a little video of Elias in his 60 meter race. The filming isn't the best, but it's still fun to watch. I only wish you could see the smile on Elias' face when he gets halfway down the track and sees his daddy cheering at the end. Chase cries everytime he thinks about it. :-)

Softball Throw Competition

Another Ethiopian at the Games!

We are so thankful to Chase's employer, Orthotic and Prosthetic Technologies, who not only gave Chase the time off to attend the Endeavor Games, but also sponsored Elias in the Games and even made special shirts just for us!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Athletes- Our Heroes

The most significant moments of the Endeavor Games were meeting the athletes, hearing their stories, and seeing them compete. There were a large number of veterans at the Games who lost limbs in the Iraq war. It was deeply moving to see them there, successfully living a life so drastically altered from the one they knew before. Their camaraderie is intimate and unique and we felt privileged to look on as they encouraged one another to achieve new physical feats.

Remember the athlete we met on the first day? His name is Kortney Clemons. We got to know him a little more throughout the weekend. His story is fills us with deep gratitude and admiration. Here it is in his words:

“We were on our way back to camp when we came across an overturned U.S. Humvee. There was a wounded soldier half inside, half outside. We got him onto a stretcher and at the guard rail, crossing over the median; there was an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The two soldiers who were assisting me were killed instantly, as was one other who was standing by us. I knew I was injured pretty badly.” But it wasn’t until he woke to find he had been transported to a military hospital in Germany that he discovered that one leg was gone above the knee and his other had been hit by shrapnel. “I had to get a lot of surgery,” he says and a lot of vascular work Kortney recovered at Brooke Army Center over a period of ten months.

A true hero! You can read more about Kortney here and here.

Kortney is now at the Olympic Training Center training for the 2012 Paralympics. Kortney won the gold in the 100m at the Endeavor Games. One of the most special moments was when he later saw Elias and gave him his gold medal. Elias wore it so proudly!

One more friend we met is Atzel. Atzel lost his leg at the ankle this past year in an accident at work. He got his prosthetic leg just 20 days before the Endeavor Games. He and three of his friends drove 22 hours from California to compete and meet the other athletes. Isn't that incredible!! He left just a couple hours after his amazing race to drive back to California!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Endeavor Games Continued

We just came back from the closing ceremonies of the Endeavor Games. Wow. Wow. Wow!

We have had a packed schedule the last couple of days and are exhausted but oh so happy. It's going to take a while to process everything- the amazing people we've met, deep conversations, inspiring stories, witness to phenomenal victories as athletes over come significant challenges... It's easy to say that this has been a life-changing event.

Most impactful is the obvious- that Elias has had the opportunity to be surrounded with others who are like him. I've loved to see all the kids (and adults too) compare prosthetics. No one stares. No incessant questions. Legs lying around all over the place like it's the most normal thing in the world. :-) He has been so free to be himself.

There are many pictures and lots of stories to tell. But it's late and this hotel internet is slow. Here are a few pics for now. Stay tuned for more once we're home and rested.

Hanging out with new friends

Having some fun before the races start

Hanging out with the "competition" in the runners tent

The big 60m race!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009 Endeavor Games

It's been forever since we've posted anything and there is so much to talk about- travels around Texas and to New York, swimming, summer time fun, Family Day 2009, etc. But for now I just have to post a few pics from our first afternoon at the 2009 Endeavor Games.

We found out about the Endeavor Games a few weeks ago and jumped on the opportunity to come and be surrounded by amputee athletes (and those with other disabilities) from all over the world. This couldn't have come at a better time for Elias who is starting to really struggle with being "different" and wishing he had "two yellow legs like Mom."

We arrived in Oklahoma this afternoon and attended a running clinic. Elias had post-nap grump and it took him a while to warm up. Actually he acted quite serious the whole time and hardly ever even cracked a smile. I think it was a lot for him to take in, seeing all these amputees of all ages and sizes running and exercising around the track.

I took him on the track to show him where he would be running in his 60m race on Saturday. We did a few practice runs, but then he said he wanted to run with the other athletes. So, he bravely went and asked the fastest guy out there if he would run with him on the track.

The guy was so kind to Elias. He took some time to give him a few tips and coach him a little, then they ran the track together. He had some very encouraging and inspiring words for Elias that I hope he remembers for the rest of his years.

Tomorrow we'll practice more at the track, watch an amputee basketball tournament, watch some swimming, and then participate in the Opening Ceremonies. Saturday morning is Elias' big race, then we'll spend the rest of the weekend watching the other events.

This is exciting stuff!