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Sep 26, 2007

Special Olympians depart for China

Story PictureWe have followed them as they prepared for the big event … and today Belize’s Special Olympics team set off on the first leg of what promises to be the journey of a lifetime.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Twelve year old Chevanne Madrill, thirteen year old Christine Rhaburn, thirteen year of Michael Grayham and seventeen year old Stephan Heinz are the four athletes who will represent Belize in the twelfth Special Olympics World Summer Games. The children, along with their coaches, departed the country this morning but not before being given a special send off by their teachers and colleagues from Stella Maris School and the Special Education Unit.

Dativa Martinez, Immediate Past President, Special Olympics, Belize
“These athletes have shown a lot of courage, they have consistently been in training, their parents have participated a lot to make it happen and in the end, I am sure, I am almost certain that they are going to be successful.”

Tonight the delegation will overnight in Chicago and are expected to arrive in China sometime tomorrow, just in time to recover from the long journey and attend the opening ceremony the following day. The athletes, who come from the Toledo, Belize and Orange Walk Districts are determined to bring home not only fond memories but medals of distinction.

Michael Grayham, Special Athlete
“I would want to tell them that I will bring back the gold.”

Christine Rhaburn, Special Athlete
“I am excited and I am so happy that I will be going to China and I hope that I will win.”

The special athletes were also given flags and Proud of Belize pins to wear during their travel abroad. The gifts were donations from sports promoter Reginald Jex. Although Special Olympics in Belize got off on a slow start in the 1980’s, children with disabilities have been competing in both national and international games with much success. The same is expected from Chevanne, Christine, Michael and Stephan.

Dativa Martinez
“In fact they are already successful from the mere fact that they have been selected to represent us in these international games they have been successful but we look forward to them bringing home a few gold medals, silver, bronze whatever and even if they don’t the lesson is that they have preserver to the end and I think we should rally behind them.”

Travelling along with the athletes is one of the parents, Allan Heinz. Heinz says he is proud to be a member of the delegation and looks forward to assisting the children. Of course he will be keeping close tabs on his own son Stephan who will compete in the fifty meter walk and the softball throw.

Allan Heinz, Parent/Assistant Coach
“He works out very hard for this Olympics. Everyday he gets up in the morning. If he does not go in the mornings, we go in the evenings. He is a very athletic person.”

This will be the third time that Belize will be participating in the international
special Olympic games and the second time that head coach Myrna Elliott will make the trip.

Myrna Elliott, Head Coach
“I have been a teacher at Stella Maris School for the past twenty-six years and all the parents know me there. I fully assure them that I will take care of them and they know it. All along I take care of those kids, twenty-four seven. I do every, everything for them from being a teacher, a nurse, a mother everything for them. So they know me well that well.”

The first Central American Special Games, to be held in Guatemala, have been postponed from earlier this month and the children who will be participating in that regional event are now scheduled to leave the country on October thirtieth.

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