The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

March 30, 2013

Courtside at the Special Olympics

McNay's Musings

RICHMOND — “I think the Special Olympics and the Olympics are actually pretty similar. We all have dreams and we all have goals. And you have to work hard to accomplish your dreams and goals.”

— Michael Phelps

“I can climb the highest mountain, cross the wildest sea

I can feel St. Elmo's fire burning in me”

— John Parr, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)”

When my childhood neighbor, Mark Buerger, director of communications for the Kentucky Special Olympics, asked if I would like to co-anchor the television broadcast for the finals of the Special Olympics basketball tournament, he picked the right guy.

That is ironic because I had never broadcast a basketball game before. I’m comfortable behind a mic so I figured there is a first time for everything.

I was lucky to be paired with a seasoned play-by-play announcer, Lachlan McLean of WHAS in Louisville, who did an incredible job of broadcasting the games and covering up my inexperience.

Along with never having broadcasting a basketball game, I had never been to a Special Olympics before.

I’m not sure how I missed the Special Olympics. A big part of McNay Settlement Group’s work is setting up trusts for people with special needs, and I have a relative with a form of autism. Instead of skipping the Special Olympics, I should have been embracing it.

Which I will do from this point forward.

My own life was shaped by athletics. An early growth spurt allowed me to tower over my grade school classmates in sports and develop a sense of self-confidence that has carried through the rest of my life.

I was a disinterested high school student at Covington Catholic until two great history teachers, Tim Banker and Joe Hackett, who happened to be football and baseball coaches, helped me appreciate the rewards of discipline and hard work.

Over 35 years later, I count two fellow members of my high school track team as my closest friends. As noted in the book I am co-authoring with Clay Hamrick, “Life Lessons from the Golf Course,” golf has had a profound impact on this segment of my life as well.

There is camaraderie and teamwork derived from sports that is impossible to replicate in any other venue.

It was a mark of genius by Eunice Kennedy Shriver when the Special Olympics were founded in 1968 to allow people with special needs or intellectual disabilities to participate in competitive sports championships.

I watched a number of Special Olympics basketball games as I prepared for the two I broadcasted. The competitive spirit and teamwork was the same as an NCAA championship. The teams were teams in the truest sense of the word.

They were also true athletics. I had bought into a stereotype that Special Olympics participants would be not be high-level players. Nothing could be further from the truth. I saw spectacular plays and teams.

The games went televised thanks to a concept called iHigh, founded by Jim Host.

In my first book, written in 2006, I bashed on Host during a time when he had a role in Kentucky’s state government. In the years since then, I have found that he is a great businessman and even greater human being.

He performs countless acts of charity, friendship and mentoring that go unnoticed in the media. He has had successful business partnerships with Al Smith and Tom Leach, both good friends. I recently gave Jim my “Life Lessons from the Lottery” book and wrote that “he was a hell of a great guy.”

With a hell of a great idea in iHigh. They broadcast high school and other sporting events that broadcast networks miss. Like Huffington Post and many news aggregators, the individual games on iHigh don’t have large audiences, but the overall audience is huge.

Actually, I found that the number of viewers for the Special Olympics broadcasts were big. It seemed like everywhere I turned, someone had seen the broadcasts.

Now that I have caught the Special Olympics fever, I want to do what I can to promote the program and the people involved.

Like Michael Phelps said, the Special Olympics and Olympics are very similar.

In a lot of ways, the Special Olympics may be a little more special.

Don McNay is a financial consultant and best selling author. His new book, Life Lessons From The Golf Course, co-written with PGA professional Clay Hamrick will have its official release on April 9.

(Editor’s Note: The 2013 Kentucky Special Olympic Summer Games will take place May 31-June 2 at Eastern Kentucky University.)

Text Only
Lifestyles & Community
  • 8-2 Quilt Extravaganza 1.jpg Quilting stitches history, friendships together

    Within the first two hours of the 10th annual Quilt Extravaganza at Berea Community School, more than 200 people had already signed the guestbook.

    Colorful displays of quilt collections lined the school’s gymnasium.

    August 1, 2014 6 Photos

  • Bee on the lookout as beekeepers convene

    Summer vacation season is in full swing, and I had the pleasure of spending the last week and a half filling in at the Farm Store while the store manager, Bethany Pratt, got a welcome respite soaking up the beauty of Ireland.

    July 30, 2014

  • Amanda-Sears-c.jpg Cicada-killer wasps are here

    The extension office has received numerous phone calls over the past couple of weeks about large wasps hovering in yards all over the county.
    This insect is called the cicada killer, and despite its aggressive name, it is not something to be scared of.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brandon-Sears-c.jpg Converting from year-round calving to a controlled breeding season

    Maintaining a controlled breeding and calving season can be one of the most important management tools for cow-calf producers.
    Uniform, heavier and more valuable calves are key reasons to keep the breeding season short.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-29 Nostalgia-Glenmore.jpg Paper boys learned life, business lessons

    I often flash back to the days from the mid to late 1930s when I was a paper boy.
    There were 10 or 12 of us who rolled out of bed at 5 a.m. every day, jumped on our bicycles and headed downtown to the Glyndon Hotel and picked up our papers for delivery.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dick-Ham.jpg Here’s why teachers aren’t paid enough

    The following were included in last year’s exams and were answered by 16-year-old high school students. The answers are genuine, and we must remember that these youngsters will grow up to vote, marry and become parents. It’s a scary thought.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-24 4-H Entries 1.jpg 4-H exhibits are family affair for the Houstons

    Five children from the same family were the first to bring their 4-H exhibits Wednesday to the Madison County Fairgrounds.

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos

  • 7-22 Band Camp 1.jpg Band students ‛take over’ MCHS campus

    The Madison Central High School campus has been “taken over” for two weeks by 170 students attending band camp.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • Dr-Jack-Rutherford.jpg Warning labels needed on energy drinks

    The popularity of energy drinks has soared since they entered the marketplace, but at least one consumer group wants the FDA to order warnings on product labels.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Donna-Moberly.jpg Full Gospel ‛Back to School Bash’ is Aug. 2

    Hello everyone.
    I guess everyone is asking, “How much rain did we get?”

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo