Growing up in Nebraska, it was always exciting to hear about my cousin Katie finishing in the top five in a sprinting competition.  In fact, it was exciting to see Katie walk at all, let alone run.

Katie and I are six weeks apart in age, and our parents noticed developmental differences when we were both about six months old.  I was able to sit up and Katie could not.

After that, I started to crawl and Katie did not.  Katie was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and as I grew up to race around the playground with the rest of the kids, Katie grew to need leg braces and walk with a slight slouch.

Even though she couldn't speak much at all she communicated better than most people, through smiles and laughs...and sprints.

Once she ditched the leg braces, she could run like Forest Gump, and placed at several sprinting competitions.  She made her point.

Special-needs athletes in Henderson gathered Friday for a competition of their own, called Sarah Murphy Field Day.

It was a track-and-field event with races including a 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash and wheelchair and walker races.  Everybody got a medal for the track races and a ribbon for the field events.
Kilgore, Jacksonville, Troup, Carlisle, Whitehouse, Arp, and other ISDs had athletes participating, and those who came away from the experience said it was rewarding for both the kids and the adults.

Kids from all walks just need an opportunity to shine, right?  Congrats to all the athletes who participated!

Katie is confined to a wheelchair now, and lives in a special group home in Nebraska for other special needs adults.  Since I'm in Texas I don't get to see her often, but I still carry the thoughts of her athletic ability, and her amazing hugs.  Special needs kids give the strongest hugs EVER, don't they?

I'm going to do my best to pass those big powerful hugs on to my three healthy daughters this weekend.  Happy Mother's Day.