I never quite understood the association of the word "challenged" with people with disabilities. If the bowlers I met at the Special Olympics' Bowl for the Gold in Reno's National Bowling Stadium were "challenged," I'll be shocked the day I meet a person who isn't.
I arrived early to get the portrait area set up. I was immediately greeted by athletes and staff, asking me questions about my past involvement with the Special Olympics, my interest in bowling and definitely dancing.
I met some amazing bowlers, some reserved, focused and extremely high-scoring. Others were dynamic, boisterous and fun-loving.
I met some amazing dancers, some shy, but still swaying. Others were breakdancing and conga-lining around the stadium.
Everyone was there for fun and smiles.
I saw this cutie dancing with her mom, and I couldn't help but grab their picture.
She was immediately excited and wanted to see my camera and take a picture of me. I handed her my camera with a strobe/diffuser on top and a battery pack on bottom, a set up half her own size. She had the large camera in her hands and instinctually knew how to compose and trigger the shutter of a DLSR and got this shot with a little help from me.
Like any great digital photographer, she wanted to check out her work. She gazed at the back of the camera, looked back up and me and said, "smile!" A request that would've made Ebenezer crack. The pint-sized photog recomposed and got this next all by herself.
A face for radio, but one of the happiest memories I have of this life.
If I can recommend one thing it's to donate some of your time and get involved with the Special Olympics. At first you might think, "yeah, I'll help some people in need." But in reality they are going to help you.
True happiness is all internal, and this bunch is the happiest I've come across.
Oh, and she commanded the dance floor (and microphone - see gallery below.) Shyness, take a hike!