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Special Olympics “Celebrities”

Your response to the videos Peter uploaded yesterday will vary depending on your level of familiarity with Special Olympics. In this world, he captured two major celebs. Here’s a little background:

Loretta Claiborne’s is one of the most inspiring of stories. She’s currently 58 and started running in 1966. She describes herself as an “angry person” until that point because she wasn’t accepted for who she was—and worst of al she didn’t know how to accept herself.  Lorretta began competing in Special Olympics in 1970 and her world turned around. She’s since competed in over 26 marathons, winning gold medals in ’91 and ’99 for half marathons; she appeared in on ESPN’s ESPY Awards show; and a film was made on her life called “The Loretta Claiborne Story.” Claiborne now serves on the S.O. Board of Directors and does the speaking circuit. Her focus is currently tennis.

To listen to Loretta you wouldn’t necessarily know she has an intellectual disability unless you look closely. Her words are rich, her ideas flow, and she rivets audiences as soon as she opens her mouth. Though she is one of a kind, it’s important to understand that this is the case with so many special-needs people, and it hits at the heart of the S.O.s  movement: they are just different enough from the “normals” to struggle to be accepted. She overcame these obstacles out of sheer tenacity and drive that sport provided her.

This is Tim Shriver’s message. He’s the second video you see. Shriver took over his mother Eunice’s work after she died in 2009. Shriver too rivets when he speaks. The short video you see here is one tired guy, and yet the depth of his convictions to revolutionize how the world treats the special-needs community is still really evident. Each time we’ve heard him speak here, Peter and I have both commented on how real and authentic he is in his message.


UPDATE: We’ve also just uploaded Deon Namiseb’s video and now it looks as if he appears at top. (Still working with this new technology.) He’s a global messenger from Namibia. He was one of twelve selected to speak at the Opening Ceremony. I don’t really think Deon needs much preamble; his words speak for themselves, though I will tell you that up close and personal Deon’s warmth is utterly palpable. Deon plays soccer.

On another note, there’s a general strike going on here for two days. It was announced a couple of days ago—not Arab Spring mentality, that. Anyway, we took a cab while an immensely engaging cabbie showed us the sites, gave us a little background on the current political climate and shared a couple of his favorite tavernas where the locals like him go. So we’ve got at least two great meals in our future.



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