Special Olympics World Games Blog

Special Olympics World Games Blog

Let me introduce you to one of the most amazing people I have had the pleasure of meeting. She runs a marathon in 3 hours and 3 minutes, has two honorary doctorate degrees, and is tremendously gifted at public speaking. She has been on the ESPY’s (my favorite sports awards show) and can speak four different languages. Does she sound amazing or what? Here is more of her story:

Her mother believed in this young woman so much and encouraged her to pursue her dreams no matter what. Her mother also reminded her to remain humble, by stating “it’s not what you have that matters, but it’s what you do with what you have that makes the difference.”

Beyond this, someone once told her mother that it would have been better for this young woman not to live at all. Her mother fought for the rights of her child and sometimes found that even getting this child access to appropriate health care was difficult. This was apparent after one dentist turned her away, saying that he didn’t service “her kind” in his clinic (meaning those with an intellectual disability). Had her mother listened to the people who sent messages her way, Loretta Claiborne would not be the kind of person she is today. Thank you, parents, for loving your children and for encouraging them to triumph through adversity.

I met Loretta yesterday at the Global Development Summit. If I can achieve ONE of the things she has been able to do in her lifetime by the time I am her age (she is almost sixty), I would feel pretty accomplished. Loretta is a Special Olympics athlete and she currently serves on the Special Olympics Board of Directors. The type of leadership she displays is one I hope to imitate. She is truly my hero. I enjoyed hearing her speak and I appreciate that Special Olympics has designed multiple spots on their Board for people with intellectual disabilities. Current president of Malawi the Honorable Joyce Banda put it best yesterday at the Global Development Summit when she said “no one should make decisions about people with disabilities without them.” Loretta is on board to do what she can to assist in this process.

The message of inclusion was heard loud and clear from this professor from a small Midwestern school in South Dakota. I got the chance to tell Loretta the kind of impact her words had on me, have you done that lately for someone you know has made a difference? I sure hope so.

As these games progress, we get the chance to meet and hear the stories of the true celebrities here…the athletes! Any photos we use are posted with permission and we cannot disclose whether or not the athletes you see are the athletes whom we are doing research on; for the sake of confidentiality, we protect that information. However, we all believe that it is really important that all of you reading this blog know that we are here to cheer on the athletes and learn from them as individuals; most of whom come from very different backgrounds than us.
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