Developmentally Disabled is the phrase my mom would use when describing her sister, Becky. Growing up in the 90's, I always struggled to define my aunt to my peers. It wasn’t that I was ashamed or embarrassed of her, I was more concerned over how defensive I would get over the inevitable judgements thrown her way. I remember the first time I became viscerally angry over the subject when a girl in my fourth grade class said it was my grandma’s fault that Becky was the way she was. That comment shook me up, I don’t even think I responded to her, but internally, I was livid! I took the words of a fourth grader as a personal attack against my family. The reality of Becky’s situation was that, during her birth, my grandma’s nurses delayed labor because the doctor was eating lunch, which ultimately led to the umbilical cord wrapping around her neck for an extended period of time. The result of this was that Becky was born developmentally disabled. But Becky was always fine in my eyes and in the eyes of her family.

Not only was Becky a prominent centerpiece of our tightknit family, but she was one of my sister and mine closest friends growing up. Becky was a robust bundle of joy who embraced everyone around her. She was a consistent presence in my life and continues to be.

Becky began doing Special Olympics in the late 70's, almost 40 years ago… Throughout the 80's and 90's she was a badass swimmer and has the medal collection to prove it. Coming from a family of athletes, most of our weekends were spent watching each other’s athletic events and a massive chunk of those weekends were spent at various pools watching Becky compete. In fact, Becky almost always seemed to be in the pool. Whether at her mom’s house, on vacation or at practice, I swear Becky has spent half her life in a pool. Now, at the age of 60, Becky has since retired from swimming, but still competes with the San Francisco track and field team.

Outside of family life, Special Olympics gave Becky such an indescribable sense of purpose and joy. And it wasn’t just Becky; it has had such a profound and beautiful impact on my life. This community and the people you meet through it will change your life. If it wasn’t for Becky, I’m not sure I would have ever become a part of Special Olympics…

More people deserve to come in contact with Special Olympics. People deserve to have their lives changed through this wonderful organization. To those people not as fortunate as I was to have that “in” with Special Olympics, I intend to give them that in with this documentary (see below). I want them to see the true hearts of the athletes, the families, the coaches and volunteers. I want people to see past the Down syndrome and the “developmentally disabled” labels. I want them to see people as they truly are.

My aunt Becky is a former Special Olympian swimmer with more medals for the butterfly stroke than we can count. She’s an avid Stanford football fan and won’t hesitate to let you know it. She’s a world traveler and has been to more countries than anyone I know. She has one of the sharpest memories and she loves her family unconditionally.

That’s my aunt Becky.

Help me make this film. Please share this project with everyone you know. Consider donating, even if it’s just a dollar. Message me if there is any other way you would like to help. Thank you so much.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade