Special Spectators brings smiles to ill children

Special Spectators at Oklahoma State University. (Photo Courtesy of KendriaCost via Flickr Creative Commons)

Special Spectators at Oklahoma State University. (Photo Courtesy of KendriaCost via Flickr Creative Commons)

Pity—to feel sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others. Simply the sound of the word molds an ache in the pit of the stomach. Unsurprisingly, those who tend to be pitied have no desire to be associated with such an unsettling word. Take children for example. A child wants nothing more than to be a child. To play and run and laugh as if it is their job. Some children are not so lucky as to call that their reality. They are plagued with illness, surfacing words such as pity to describe them. Rather than looking at ill children with solemn eyes, it is important to find a way to let kids be kids.

Special Spectators is a nonprofit organization that puts on fun activities for seriously ill children. The program embraces a persona that captures the children they serve. Through integrity, imagination and seizing the day, Special Spectators works to make the world a better place for each child one event at a time. Taking an average of 25 children at a time, the program provides VIP experiences at football games, gymnastics meets, basketball games and other sporting events.

That special treatment VIP service was seen at College of Charleston’s Gildan Classic  Nov. 17-20. Each day presented the children the opportunity to sit on the sidelines with the players at the ESPN-broadcasted basketball tournament. The children spent the TD Arena experience with gleams in their eyes and smiles on their faces.

Special Spectators welcomes children and volunteers happily. Volunteers simply visit the website and enter their name and position of interest, and the process for getting a child involved is just as simple. The goal of the program is not to make a name for itself, but to provide the children with an impactful experience that they can carry with them through their illness. Simply looking at a child at one of the special events has the velocity to make any individual smile. Smiling is simple, but the happiness and meaning the experience carries for the children is what Special Spectators events embrace.

College of Charleston had the chance to witness these smiles, as have many other colleges and sporting events. Each child taking part in a Special Spectators event has just as much of an impact on the people involved as the opportunity has on the child. The organization allows the kids and their families to put their worries aside for a period of time and relax. The kids smile and do what kids do best: be kids.  

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