Breakfast of Champions

Last week I attended the annual Breakfast of Champions event held by the Mile High Down Syndrome Association in conjunction with the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. The goal of this event is to raise money and awareness for people with Down syndrome whether for research or family support services.

Often the keynote speaker is a person or family member of a person with Down syndrome such as Annie Forts who spoke last year.

This year was different. This year a professional motivational speaker, Sam Glenn, gave the keynote presentation. I have never seen anything like this. There was a large chalk board on the podium. After the introductory speeches, the lights went dark. Two spot lights were turned on and illuminated the large dark board. Inspirational music echoed through the room. Sam leapt onto stage and donned a glove and a mask. For the next ~15 minutes he drew in vibrant colors. At first it was difficult to make out what the image would be. My brain kept trying to make recognizable shapes from the swirls of color. At first I thought it would turn into some psychedelic stuffed animal but slowly the scene emerged, much like this image. You can view a video clip of his light house drawing process complete with inspirational music. But that was not all, when the drawing was complete the light show began, with the score from the first Star Wars movie playing in the back ground. A spotlight from the light house moved across the water. The birds flew out of the picture. Compelling words and ideas flashed across the image. The mood in the room, which had been somber after a mother shared her experience of learning that her newborn unexpectedly had Down Syndrome and the health problems she had faced, lifted.

After the drawing and light show were complete, Sam Glenn regaled us on attitude. To lighten up. His humor was somewhat crude and yet the tension flowed out of the room. He spent time telling us, and showing us, how a single person, through his or her words and actions can completely change the feeling of people all around. He mesmerized. One person, with his or her glum and unhappy attitude, can bring down all those around them. So too can one person with a bright smile and a kind word raise up the mood of everyone within the sphere of his or her influence.

Who would you rather be? Who would you rather spend time with? Be that person.