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Nov 29, 1999

One hundred take part in Special Olympics

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One hundred and one disabled persons came out to the National Stadium for the 1999 National Special Olympics on Saturday. The event, which the Special Olympics Committee is hoping to make an annual one, helped build the confidence of all who participated. The organizers just hope next time more potential athletes will find the courage to come out and join the fun.

The athletes from across the country did not let the heat, or their physical or mental handicaps stop them from playing in the games and having fun.

Singing Olympic Song

“Let the games begin, let the games begin! We are not losers; we always win. Brave and competitive we are, Special Olympians here and everywhere, Special Olympians forever we are Special Olympians courageous we are.”

Dativa Martinez, Coordinator, Special Education Unit

“One of the things we definitely want to achieve is continuing to send the message that special athletes can be as competitive as regular athletes. In fact sometimes I even think a little bit more.”

The special athletes do not compete against each other but the games give them the opportunity to develop their skills no matter what their disability. Johnny Ramirez, who has had problems walking since he was a baby, has been a positive influence on the athletes. Ramirez, who works at the Sub Treasury in Belmopan, says while he feels good about the turnout, there are still far too many disabled persons who prefer to stay at home.

Johnny Ramirez

“They are shy in the sense that their parents do not want them to come out or they are ashamed because they are afraid that people will tell them something out of the way and let them feel bad. But I think if they come out and expose themselves they will feel good about it.”

Dativa Martinez

“I think that is one of the biggest setbacks that we have but as time goes along and as the message is being spread we find that more and more people are coming out and are willing to participate.”

The athletes, who range in age from eight years old to thirty-five years old, took part in the twenty-five meter assisted walk, fifty meter run, standing long jump and softball throw and other events. Martinez says just as they encourage the special athletes to support the National Games, they would like to see more participation in the International Special Olympics.

Dativa Martinez

“For participating in Special Olympics International all that they really need to do is stay in training. This is a message that we want volunteers, parents and coaches to get clearly that to qualify for the International games all the athletes really need to do is to stay in training.”

If you would like to volunteer your time to the Special Olympics year round program you can contact the committee on Freetown Road in Belize City.

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