Date of Paper
Date of Paper
After reading about the Olympics and the progression of the Games over the years, the athletes, their courage, and hard work, I thought about the Special Olympics and what it takes to participate. The Olympic Games are a challenge for the fittest. The athletes that compete are the cream of the crop and work long hours for years to compete and become a part of the Games. What are the challenges for the Special Olympic Games? They still have to train to compete, but they have other obstacles to overcome as well. Who are the true winners of the Special Olympics, the athletes, the parents and friends, or the coaches? Is there really a way to gauge the real winners? In my paper, I hope to discover how and what it takes to be in the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics Oath is:
Let me win
But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt What an oath to live by and live up to, especially when you are facing disabilities every day of your life. This is the oath that the Special Olympian Athletes recite and abide by. Who are the Special Olympian Athletes and who qualifies to participate in the games? Those with mental retardation or learning disabilities starting at the age of eight to adulthood are eligible to participate with a doctor’s authorization. Eunice Kennedy Shriver has be a hero in her support and work in bringing about recognition for the mentally challenged. Up until this time, those with mental retardation or illnesses were institutionalized. It was believed that exercise would be detrimental to their health. Because Eunice Shriver and the Kennedy family made public the fact their sister, Rosemary Kennedy, was mentally retarded, it made people realize there was nothing to be ashamed of if a family member was mentally ill. (Dinn 14) They proved that even the mentally disabled were capable of learning and competing. Eunice and Sargent Shriver started summer camps in their own home, so that the disabled would have a place to go. There were over 100 volunteers there at the fist summer camp. From one woman opening up her home so that her sister, as well as others, could enjoy riding horses, swimming, tennis and volleyball, just as other children do, came what has evolved into today’s Special Olympics. The first Special Olympics Summer Games were held in Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on July 20, 1968. Almost 1,000 people with mental retardation from twenty-six U. S. states and Canada competed in track and field and swimming events (Brown 17). Eunice Shriver remembers the excitement hat filled Soldier Field that morning. “My best memory is watching the athletes march in;” she said. “Chicago’s mayor, Richard Daley, leaned over as we watched and said, ‘Eunice, the world will never be the same again.’ How right he was!” (Dinn 15). Elsie Okitkon, an Inupiouq Eskimo, lived in a tiny rural town of Koyuk, Alaska. When she was a teenager, she wanted to compete in skiing, but was very shy and being from a small community, her differences seem to stand out more. Elsie heard about Special Olympics at school and started competing and winning. She had been skiing since she was five years old. Because of her success, she was chosen to be on the team that went to the 1989 International Winter Games in Reno, Nevada. Elsie came out of her shell and became a local celebrity because of her experience with the Special Olympics (Brown 23). Connie Roll has cerebral palsy, but she does not let that stop her from being a swimmer and competitor. She has won medals in the 50-meter free style. Speaking slowly she said how much she loved to swim because “it’s good for you, and you feel great after you do it” (Brown 50). Connie explains that she doesn’t care if she wins, but smiles and says that she does want to win.