Lions punter Sam Martin along with his girlfriend, former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, enjoyed volunteering at the Special Olympics World Games at Abu Dhabi. 

Sam Martin stepped up to the podium at Abu Dhabi, ribbon in hand. In front of him, the athletes are there, awaiting. They had come from all over the planet to compete in gymnastics. Even the Detroit Lions punter, halfway through the world watching athletes who were mostly unfamiliar with the game he plays, was going to give them their awards.

It sounds like a small thing. This had been anything but. It turned into something which’s going to stay together with Martin for ever.

Martin walked up to the initial girl, a competitor from El Salvador, and gave her the eighth-place ribbon for her job on the ground exercise.

She did not triumph. It did not matter. With the Special Olympics, it’s just as much about the travel as the result.

“You could simply tell how joyful and pleased she had been,” Martin explained. “That, for sure, is some thing — and I had been lucky enough to place away a few ribbons around her neck, and she had been only the cutest little girl, and she had been just so happy and so joyful and did not care if she ended or 100th.

“She just had the best time, so you can tell she had been really happy in what she’d achieved. There’s so much correlation to just life generally that the inspiration they provide is just amazing.”

Martin was one of a set of athletes — mostly former Olympians, including figure skater Michelle Kwan and gymnast Nastia Liukin — at Abu Dhabi as ambassadors for its 2019 Special Olympics World Games. They’re there to offer assistance and also be described as a face for your soul of inclusion in sports as well as in life.

For Martin, who had been training for the 2019 NFL season in Jupiter, Florida, this was a welcome break from his football practice, allowing him to work well with a company he supported at senior school.

He connected with the Games because of Liukin, whom he is newly dating. She reached out and asked him if he wanted to go. He said however, but he wanted to be much involved compared to the usual spectator. Martin said Liukin worked out with Special Olympics.

Being a football player, he never imagined walking at the Opening Ceremonies of an Olympic Games.

She did not have a chance to walk throughout the Beijing games, therefore this really was an initial for her as well. In a note communicated through Martin, she said that it made her”pretty emotional.”

“It was incredible for to accomplish that. It’s tough to describe,” Martin explained. “clearly, running out of a tube to get a soccer match and material, you get that kind of feel, however it was simply being at the exact midst of most these athletes and their ability, it had been a moving experience.

“You kind of are all, for example, at a trance almost. It had been astonishing.”

Martin heard that Pittsburgh cornerback Joe Haden would require a soccer practice to introduce football to athletes who had never played with the sport. They worked with athletes from Puerto Rico and the United Arab Emirates, setting them through stations and warm-up drills. They were basic drills to its NFL players, however it had been a way to boost exposure to your match and bring joy to the athletes.

That, more than that, stuck out to Martin. The trip gave him a glimpse of exactly what sports can perform and devoting him to working together with those who face different intellectual challenges. While he has worked together with some organizations in the Detroit area in earlier times his trip created enough of a pull for him to reach outside to work well with Special Olympics once he came back to the United States.

The Special Olympics was at the news this past week, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed a plan to cut the funds for the Special Olympics on Tuesday, but had been overruled by President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Martin said trimming financing would be”dreadful because I watched firsthand this financing is currently providing.” He also saw the opportunities given, the enjoyment given, the inclusion with merged sports that will help bridge the perception athletes are athletes and the application links them all together.

Being reminded Martinin a way, of why he started playing sports at the first location.

“This comes from is such a great location,” Martin explained. “Along with also the athletes really are merely extremely appreciative, and it’s simply they are inspirational and inspirational. I abandon the Games feeling really — it only opens your eyes to what’s important in life.

“And makes you love what often get over looked “

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