Bowling for Hugs
There is a saying that a smile is worth a thousand words. Well, a hug has to be worth every word in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and more, especially when the hug comes from a Special Olympian who just bowled a strike, picked up a spare, knocked down one pin or bowled a gutter ball.
On October 7, I was one of several volunteers at the Special Olympics of Greater Memphis city bowling tournament for students. Wearing my purple and white FedEx Cares t-shirt, comfortable shoes and doing a few arm exercises, (you have to be ready for the children to spontaneously grab you in a bear hug) I eagerly waited for the games to begin.
To tell you the truth, I think I was as excited as the participants for the games to start. There’s just something about being in an environment filled with an abundance of joy, love and laughter. It makes you want to smile and hug everyone around you because it makes you happy.
In my opinion, I had the best volunteer job. I was a volunteer floater – meaning I got to go to all the lanes instead of being assigned to one team. I started on lanes 1-4 with elementary students, mostly boys about 8-10 years old. They were ready to go.
Then it happened. Through the push of a button in the control booth, the lanes’ lights and electronic scoring machines came on. The students saw their names on the screens, the multi-colored bowling balls were in the chute and it was time to get down to business. My role consisted of being part coach, cheerleader and all-around hug gatherer. That was the best part.
One at a time, the students came up to the chute. They meticulously selected their bowling ball like high school girls choosing the right pair of shoes to go with that “to-die-for” prom dress. Up to the lane they walked, strolled and in some cases they even ran.
When the lane volunteer called the students’ name, they approached their lane with ball in hand. Each with a different style, they prepared to bowl. And the speed depended upon the bowler.
For the two Alan’s it was slow like molasses. For David it was a rocket lifting off with him on the floor eyeing the trajectory. For Cody, in his red preppy vest, it was like ice cream dripping down a cone on a hot Memphis summer day. Then we have Hunter. His style was a combination of all of them.
Regardless of the boys’ style or how many pins they knocked down, the reward in the end was the same – a big hug from them to me and vice versa. Going to each lane to help out, I got similar responses from the students. It was fantastic! If you ever need to feel happy, volunteer at a Special Olympics of Greater Memphis event.
I am so glad to work for a company like FedEx that cares about its team members by allowing us time to get involved in community events. And I want to thank FedEx for giving me the opportunity to give back and to receive my Merriam-Webster’s dictionary worth of hugs.
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