Thursday, June 10, 2010

Operation KidConnect!!!

Welcome!!! Operation KidConnect is a little project where I partner with Hallmark cards in an effort to encourage the special kids in my life. I hope you'll take this opportunity to do the same!
If you are new to Operation KidConnect and want to catch up, the introduction is here. If you want to find out some more about the kids I am personally encouraging throughout this project, please click here.

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
Engines pumping and thumping in time.
The green light flashes, the flags go up,

Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.

Have you ever been to an elementary school track meet? You walk from the parking lot across the field into a sea of parents and older siblings dragging little ones into a throng of munchkins. All that's missing is the Lollipop Guild, really. The air is a mix of fifth-grade-boy sweat and palpable anxiety as the kids line up in age groups and prepare to race. Some parents are practically forcing their kids to get into their age group. Some are super-prepared in sweat bands and UnderArmour. Others are in jeans or pajama bottoms, totally ill-prepared for what's next.
And then, the announcer yells to start. And it's all a blur. A flurry of lanky, skinny legs and arms flailing past the start line. They're about to run a mile. That might as well be 100 miles to a first-grader.

They deftly manouver and muscle for rank,
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank,
Wreckless and wild they pour thru the turns,

Their prowess is potent and secretly stern.

The course is marked by the "rabbit," an older, cooler kid who is honestly just more able to hide his exhaustion and panting from the others. They run. And they run. Of course, there are winners in every age group, which means someone loses. Some cross the finish line to the cheers of encouragement from their waiting families. Others are pushed more forcefully: "Keep going! You've got this! Come ON, PASS him Jason!!!" Some cry. Yes, at K2's final race of the season a girl crossed the finish line hysterical tears.

As they speed through the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up, and get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,

Still driving and striving as fast as he can.

The most remarkable part about an elementary school race is not the winners or even the losers, or the flailing frantic kids. It's what happens after the winners AND the losers have crossed the finish line. It's when the kids who never even had a chance cross the finish line. The scrawny, the unpopular, and the special needs kids. And when they are accompanied by their parents, who have chosen to run the race with them and encourage them through the breathless "I can't do it, I can't do it, I just can't"...THAT is what it's all about. THAT is where the true strength is found. There is no one left in the bleachers, the rabbits have gone off to make out with their 5th grade girlfriends, and the score-keeper is packing up her table. And still, they cross.

How do you "go the distance" for or with your kids? How can you "go the distance" with a kid who's not your own but who desperately needs your encouragement?

* Song lyrics taken from "Going the Distance" by Cake. Cake is an awesome band.

* I did not receive any compensation from Hallmark for doing Operation KidConnect. I just really like Hallmark and I hope they like me too. :)

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