As a volunteer and coach for Special Olympics Forsyth County I'm in direct contact with many individuals with special needs. I coach Bocce, Bowling and Cheerleading and have encountered some of my favorite people in my many years of coaching. One of my athletes with Down syndrome is feisty, extremely funny and fiercely independent. For a child she is incredible and I can't wait to see her as an adult. While I don't want to mention her name here, should her family read this they will know exactly who I'm speaking of. I am greeted with hugs and reprimands every practice. She runs up to my daughters, both of which are typical teenage girls, with hugs, smiles and "best friend" greetings. When we have a part of our routine she doesn't like or thinks should be different, she has no problem letting me know. She is AWESOME and loved very deeply. As having been a coach for many years, I have the opportunity to bond with athletes from other counties. "Red" is from a county south of Forsyth County. From the moment I met him I fell in love. Every time I see him he runs up to me with hugs and jokes. He is a wonderful dancer and has danced many nights away at the Special Olympic dances. "Red", as well, is loved by my own two daughters and will manipulate their time while at events. When his coaches can't find him, they come looking for me or my daughters and he is usually found. I can't begin to tell you how my life and the lives of my daughters have been touched and enhanced by our affiliation with Special Olympics. All of my athletes are special to my family and are an extension of my family. We are very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful non-profit organization that has given me the ability to introduce my children to the most remarkable population on this planet. In Lewisville, North Carolina we have a non-profit theatre group known as West Side Civic Theatre. During many productions we have had cast members with different needs. One constant face is of a young man with Down syndrome. He is now in college and doesn't have as much time to perform in WSCT productions, but that will change once he graduates. He is a remarkable young man from an amazing family. Both his father and mother are advocates for Down syndrome, as well as other special needs. This family is one that you can't wait to be around and can't help but feel so special being in their presence. Their son instills and creates those same feelings in everyone he comes in contact with. What a joy to have people of this caliber in your life. Thank you! Thank you to everyone with Down syndrome and/or other special needs that have graced our life. You are most cherished.