Welcoming the Special Olympics USA Games to Seattle

The Special Olympics USA Games is a premier, national sports competition that showcases the power and joy of sports at the highest levels. From July 1-6, 2018 more than 4,000 athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia arrived in Seattle and the surrounding region along with 10,000 family members and friends. 

In addition to showcasing the awe-inspiring abilities of thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities, the 2018 USA Games in Seattle models the ideals of inclusion and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics movement.

The USA Games take place every four years with previous host cities being: Ames, Iowa (2006); Lincoln, Nebraska (2010); and Lawrenceville, New Jersey (2014). Now, in its fourth running, the Special Olympics USA Games is in Seattle.

I was one of the 10,000+ volunteers working to help support the Games. I loved having the opportunity to welcome the families and athletes to Seattle by volunteering the first 2 days of the event at the Family Welcoming Center.  I was part of a volunteer group that greeted all the families fresh from the airport and worked to get them settled in the Seattle area.

It was so fun to meet families from across the U.S. and provide them information on family activities, demonstrate how to use light rail and the bus system, recommend restaurants and must see Seattle sights. Almost everyone wanted to ride the elevator to the top of the newly renovated Space Needle, attend a Mariners baseball game and get a peak at Mt. Rainier.  The athletes stay with their coaches in the dorms on the University of Washington campus and their families wanted to make the best of their "down time' to see the area.  

The games offer 14 sports including swimming, flag football and soccer. With the exception of the Opening Ceremony, all events are free and local families are encourage to come cheer, wave signs and make some noise.  Venues include the University of Washington, King County Aquatic Center, Seattle University and Celebration Park.

The Special Olympics USA Games is the biggest sporting event to hit the Seattle area in more than 25 years and I am so glad that I was able to volunteer, use my knowledge of Seattle and the area to introduce so many families to Seattle!  


Seattle Themed books for Adults

As a follow up to my previous post on Seattle-centric books for kids, I am now sharing some of my favorite books for adults:

As I previewed in the last blog, The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown in a great read.  This nonfiction story is set during the Great Depression and tells the story of the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team as they qualified to compete in the Berlin Olympics.   An inspiring read and a wonderful introduction to Seattle, University of Washington and the lake you see all around you - Lake Washington.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette is a fun, light novel with many Seattle cultural references writen by Maria Semple.  Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: This is an old-fashioned historical novel that alternates between the early 1940s and 1984 written by Jamie Ford.  The story focuses on Henry Lee, a 12-year-old Chinese boy who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl, while they are scholarship students at a prestigious private school during the World War II time period in Seattle. The story alternates between this time period and the 1980's when the belongings of Japanese immigrants interned during WWII were found in the basement of the Panama Hotel. *This book is on several middle school reading lists - as it is appropriate for adults and teens.

Also story revolving around World War II and the Japanese interment, David Guterson wrote the beautiful book - Snow Falling on Cedars.   Fighting the distrust and prejudice of his neighbors on a remote island in Puget Sound, a Japanese-American man who spent time in an internment camp during World War II, finds himself on trial for murder. The histories of the accused and the victim, both fishermen and residents of a small town unfold as newspaperman Ishmael Chambers embarks on a quest for the truth. Snow Falling on Cedars won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award.  

Some notable Seattle authors with novels set in the area include:  Tom Robbins, Sherman Alexie, Garth Stein, Jim Lynch, Timothy Egan and don't forget Seattle is home to Nancy Pearl, America's favorite librarian, NPR contributor and author of several books on books including Book Lust and Book Crush.  Rick Steves, the author and PBS travel show host is also from Seattle and is most likely the Seattleite holding the title of most books authored - I think last count was 100+ travel guides. 

For all the teens - there is always Stephenie Meyers.  Her Twilight Series, is set right here in the Olympic National Park area and the small town of  Forks, Washington. After you read the books you'll be ready to go tour the areas visited by Edward, Bella and Jacob.