Today’s Storytime with Stephen episode contains an important reminder. The pinnacle of athleticism is always counted as the Olympics. We see truly incredible feats of human ability that stemmed from years of rigorous training, sweat, and sacrifice that wow people in nations all around the world. That’s why we love them. But there is one event that matches the Olympics in both strength of character and inspirational spirit, and that is the Paralympics. The Paralympics started today in Sochi, and we here at Gaiam are huge fans of this very different display of what humans are capable of. The things that these athletes train for as just as beautiful and fascinating, perhaps even more so because of the disabilities they face and overcome on a day-to-day basis, such at those of US Paralympian Matt Stutzman. If you missed Matt’s story, he is an armless archer who currently holds the record for the world’s longest shot…by any archer, not just a disabled one! Such a show of hard work and dedication deserves to be recognized, so we brought Paralympian Matt Stutzman over to Denver in order to speak to a schoolful of special needs students on what it means to work hard and not give up. The Paralympic experience is definitely different in many ways, because as we watch it, something changes. We no longer are focused on just “our team” and our country’s representative; instead, we start to cheer for each other as human beings. What an incredible experience! This message was captured in a documentary made by German filmmaker Niko von Glasow called My Way to Olympia. As a disabled person himself, you would expect von Glasow to be very earnestly cheering for athletes like Matt (who is featured in the documentary). However, he is skeptical of the value of the Paralympics, and at times very cynical, asking the hard questions of people facing hard circumstances. As Stephen puts it, this documentary is as much about von Glasow’s journey as it is about the athletes, and learning the true value of the human spirit.
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