While growing up, I had the fortune to live at a state-run school for the blind in the southeastern US. Usually, when I tell my friends that I grew up at a school for the blind, the music stops, they look at me and say, “Uhhhh, say that again!” But, yes, I really did grow up at a school for the blind.
When I was three years old, my father became the Superintendent of the School for the Blind and as was customary then, but not so much now, we moved into a residence provided by the State for him (and his family). I guess the idea was that since the school was a residential school for the kids, it was to everyone’s benefit for my dad to live there too in case there’d been an emergency when he wasn’t in the office… I can remember around the age of 3 or 4 that I first learned that there were more sighted kids in the world than there were visually handicapped kids. That was mind blowing for me at that age.
So, when I read that the World Special Olympics would be held in LA from July 25, 2015 to August 2, 2015, it brought back some memories of some of the differently-abled athletes that I have known in life. How they overcame obstacles that regular athletes are not challenged by… How their determination to compete despite their challenges is inspirational to us all and reminds us of what can be overcome in life when determination is mixed with a little talent.
In June 1962, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a day camp for children with intellectual disabilities at her home in Potomac, MD. She started this camp because she was concerned about children with intellectual disabilities having nowhere to play. Using Camp Shriver as an example, Shriver, who was head of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and part of President Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation, promoted the concept of involvement in physical activity and competition opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. Camp Shriver became an annual event, and the Kennedy Foundation (of which Shriver was executive vice president) gave grants to universities, recreation departments and community centers to hold similar camps.
This year, over 6,500 athletes will compete with over 500,000 spectators watching them. For more information, go to http://www.la2015.org.