A View We Could Benefit From

First of all, I hope you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics. Not for any pro-life reason, but simply for the love of the sport, the thrill of the competition – not least of all victory, pride for our country, and finally, because they only take place every four years. If you have faithfully tuned into NBC’s primetime broadcasts, you may have noticed featured bios about two athletes who have been positively influenced by their handicapped siblings. Freestyle moguls’ skier Alexandre Bilodeau became the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on Canada’s home soil. All of Canada celebrated his victory with jubilation. And Bilodeau dedicated his Olympic medal to the person he publicly refers to as his hero and inspiration – his brother Frédéric. Frédéric has cerebral palsy, and his speech and muscle control are affected by the disease, along with his ability to walk. Although he spends most of his time in a wheelchair, Frédéric’s positive attitude is ever present to his younger brother, who refers to him as one of the happiest guys. “When he wakes up in the morning, he’s got that big smile, he goes to bed, and he’s got that big smile,” said Alexandre. “We can really learn from those people that just put everything in life back into perspective.” The other athlete, snowboarder Kevin Pearce was not even a member of this year’s U.S. Olympic team. He was a favorite to make the team, but in November of 2009 he suffered a traumatic brain injury during practice. NBC’s coverage documented Kevin’s injury and ongoing recovery, and included interviews with his family, including Kevin’s brother David, who has Down Syndrome. Kevin’s mother, Pia, talked positively about how the gift of David in their lives has equipped them to deal with Kevin’s slow recovery. In closing, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who conducted the interview, remarked that while it may appear that parents of special needs children do all the work, the child gives back so much more. In our world which oftentimes views the disabled as negatiavely influencing our society, it was inspiring how NBC displayed both athletes’ brothers in a positive light – not as embarrassments or inconvenient secrets to be kept out of sight – but as important, even inspirational, members of their families. That is a view our culture would benefit to embrace.

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