The Special Olympics went mainstream this year by being broadcasted on ESPN. The event held in Los Angeles ran from July 25th to the closing ceremonies held on August 2nd. Since its inception in 1968, this event has been growing in size and popularity and the fruits of hard work are now coming into the nation’s living room. Most of us don’t know what the Special Olympics encompasses is but by tuning in allows the viewers to get a better understanding. There are multiple types of Olympics that are held throughout the world but this event is held for athletes with intellectual disabilities.
There is a lot that can be said about the impact of the Special Olympics and the lives that are changed through this event. After seeing some of the events and doing my research, the most prevalent idea to take away from this gathering, is the heartwarming sense of community. Not only do the athletes gain with their performances but the scores of people that put this together, the coaches, the families and the fans. It is also the one event where everybody is pulling for everybody. Some say that the Special Olympics are the leading voice of awareness for all those with intellectual disabilities.
These Olympics are amazing in the amount of categories and events they are able to pull off in one week. Over 6500 athletes arrived from over 165 countries to compete in twenty five individual and team events. There are traditional events such as basketball and gymnastics but also unique competitions such as Bocce and sailing.
I was able to catch a portion of the weightlifting competition and I was enthralled at some of these men. I have to single out one lifter by the name of Jackie Barret. What I didn’t realize that Jackie is quite the popular athlete. He has his own fan club not just because of his ability, gold medal winner and record setter, but also is that he so much fun to watch. He has a nickname of the Moose, The Newfoundland Moose in full. After his competition lift he gives his own moose signal above his head in celebration.
His story is one of many to see and I am so glad I watched. The Special Olympics offers everybody on this planet a chance to be involved which makes it a true global event. The stigma of “special needs” people is erased every year by the efforts of the supporting parties and athletes. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder would be extremely proud of the movement this event has become and where it is going.