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A few years ago the Special Olympics were being held in Seattle, Washington. Nine physically or mentally challenged runners lined up at the starting line for the 100 meter run. At the sound of the gun, all the runners began to run as fast as they could. That is all, “except for one boy who stumbled, out of the starting blocks.” He fell down and began to cry. The other eight runners heard the boy crying and immediately stopped running and turned around to see what was wrong.

Then everyone in the crowd was stunned to see all 8 of them walk back to the place where the boy was lying on the ground and help him back to his feet. One girl with Down syndrome kissed him and said, “That will make it better.” Then all nine of them linked arms and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood up and began to cheer. They gave them a standing ovation that lasted 10 minutes.

The University of Texas and Texas A&M are arch-rivals. (like UK and U of L) Every year for many years before their annual football game, Texas A&M had a pep rally which included a huge bonfire. You may recall that a few years ago, the bon fire collapsed a number of Texas A&M students were actually killed as a result. As a sign of their support and shared grief at this tragic loss of life, a number of University of Texas students attended the memorial service at Texas A&M.

One of them was Eric Opiela, who was serving at the time as the Vice-President of the University of Texas Student Body. Eric wrote an article for the school newspaper about memorial service he attended at Texas A & M. This is what he said.

“I had the great privilege of attending the memorial service at A&M tonight and was deeply moved by the events I experienced. The A&M student body is truly one of the greatest treasures of our State. As part of the University of Texas delegation, we sat on the floor of Reed Arena, and immediately following the end of the service, I heard this rustling sound behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw 20,000 students spontaneously putting their arms around their neighbor’s shoulders, forming a great circle around the arena.

The mass stood there in pin-drop silence for close to five minutes, then, from somewhere, someone began to quietly hum “Amazing Grace.” Within seconds, the whole arena was singing. I tried to sing too- but I was too choked up.

This event brought me to tears. It was one of the defining moments of my college career. I learned something tonight. For all us Longhorns who discount A&M in our never-ending rivalry, we need to realize one thing. Aggieland is a special place, with special people. (Why?) Because, it is a family….It is a family that cares for its own, a family that reaches out, a family that is unified in the face of adversity.”