A campaign to create a scarf for the Special Olympics was started this year. The Winter Special Olympics was held on 30th of Jan this year in Sugar Loaf. The purpose of this project was to equip 800 athletes and coaches with handmade winter gear.
Lisa Bird from the Special Olympics came across a letter sharing information on this national campaign, it sounded like an interesting idea to her so she signed up. The Winter Special Olympics had 500 athletes and 300 coaches, so she knew they would need 800 of the fluffy things total, but could not hope for more than a hundred. Lisa was quite optimistic that maybe the news for this project would be reported in a news channel so it could gather more popularity among the knitters and crocheters, but as weeks flew by there was no news on TV and nothing in the mail.
It was during the holidays the Bangor Daily News, a big newspaper, wrote an article about it and the first scarf came in the mail. Then another one followed, and another one. Lisa’s phone was ringing off the hook, enthusiastic knitters showered her with questions about the length, curls, rows etc. Having received 50 of the desired neck wear by the second week of January Lisa and her co-workers were frantic to decide which athletes should receive them. But, just then the word of the campaign has spread through the knitting community. Knitting clubs took up on the project and were excitedly working to complete the desired number. Nursing homes met daily to help too. Knitting was even included in the school curriculum and grandmothers were giving crocheting lessons to their grandchildren. Even some of the athletes were knitting themselves in order to give others.
On January 26, two days before the deadline about 1000 shawls were delivered and ready to be unpacked. Lisa Bird’s office was flooded with boxes and envelopes. This project turned from just another interesting idea into a motivating and heartwarming project. So many letters were received encouraging the special athletes, prayers sent, the elderly expressed their gratitude for being given the chance to contribute to the Special Olympics in a meaningful way, since they could not donate money or volunteer. Shawls were received from homesick students, stay home moms, people who had friends or relative participating in the Special Olympics, even those who had spend summers in Maine and liked it sent shawls to show their appreciation. Knitting was included as a low stress project in a school for students with special behavioral, emotional and academic needs.
The athletes from the Special Olympics never dreamed that a simple scarf can have such a profound meaning – they are a reminder that people care and support them!