Brooke Taylor essay

 

Every day during high school I looked forward to eating lunch with one of the most outgoing guys I have ever met. His name is Cameren and he has autism.  He loves interacting with people and aspires to make others laugh. He is sincere and genuinely wants everyone to be happy. It is intriguing how much I have learned from him. Understanding differences between people can make us so much stronger and that the acts of smiling and being kind are very important. The Special Olympics give special needs students and adults a time to really feel important, accepted, and heroic. All humans strive for those feelings, but so often people with special needs are neglected. It is extremely important to volunteer for foundations that help people with special needs be treated with the same importance as people without.

I collaborated in a team of three to put on a fundraiser called Hoopin’ 4 Heroes in my community to raise money for the Special Olympics. It was a charity basketball game and raffle. One basketball team consisted of teachers from our school district and the other of, police officers and firefighters in our district. The major part of the event we planned was the raffle. We sold raffle tickets at two prices; the smaller raffle items at one dollar per raffle ticket and the larger items at five dollars per raffle ticket. My two team members and I went to local businesses and asked for donations for the raffle and we ended up having 30+ items. Everyone absolutely loved the raffle and we got great feedback from community members. In total, the event raised over $7,500 for the Special Olympics. This money went to hosting a Special Olympics in my community the following year and helped Special Olympic athletes, like Cameren, have the best Special Olympics experience possible.

Although being able to donate thousands of dollars for a cause I am passionate about was a great reward within itself, the most significant reward of this experience was at half-time during the game when Cameren shot and made a free throw. After he made it he threw his arms up in the air and ran around the gym with the biggest smile. The audience cheered loudly, and with so much passion, it brought me to tears. I was so happy to see Cameren be recognized as a young man who achieved a goal, and not “that special needs kid.”

This experience made me realize how much I take for granted in today’s society. Cameren was so, extremely happy with making a free throw, while I can have so much and not appreciate it. I understand now that the small things in life, whether it’s a small gesture from someone else, spending time with family, or just feeling happy, must not go unnoticed. No matter how small the events are, they all matter. After being a part of this community service event and learning so much from it, I have done at least one act of kindness each day for someone else. I have become a more giving person, and I do as much as I can through community service to aid the greater good. Our event brought our entire community together to recognize a marginalized group in society for how outstanding they are. The impact Hoopin’ 4 Heroes had on Special Olympics, Cameren, and myself, will stay with me forever and I will continue to better as a person because of it.

 

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