The Corner

‘he taught me how to throw a ball and a mean right hook better than any boy in my neighborhood.’

Michelle Obama has something to say about the importance of fathers in her Olympics pitch:

I’m also asking as a daughter.

See, my dad would have been so proud to witness these Games in Chicago. And I know they would have meant something much more to him, too.

You see, in my dad’s early thirties, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. And as he got sicker, it became harder for him to walk, let alone play his favorite sports.  But my dad was determined that sports continue to be a vital lifeline — not just to the rest of the world, but to me and my brother.

And even as we watched my dad struggle to hold himself up on crutches, he never stopped playing with us.  And he refused to let us take our abilities for granted. He believed that his little girl should be taught no less than his son. 

So he taught me how to throw a ball and a mean right hook better than any boy in my neighborhood. But more importantly, my dad taught us the fundamental rules of the game, rules that continue to guide our lives today: to engage with honor, with dignity, and fair play.

My dad was my hero.

And when I think of what these Games can mean to people all over the world, I think about people like my dad.  People who face seemingly insurmountable challenges, but never let go. They work a little harder, but they never give up.

Now, my dad didn’t live to see the day that the Paralympic Games would become the force that they are today. But if he had lived to see this day — if he could have seen the Paralympic Games share a global stage with the Olympic Games, if he could have witnessed athletes who compete and excel and prove that nothing is more powerful than the human spirit, I know it would have restored in him the same sense of unbridled possibility that he instilled in me.

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