ST. CROIX — The annual Special Olympics event — which focuses on children and adults with special needs putting their athletic abilities on display while receiving overwhelming encouragement from attendees — was held on Saturday at the Renaissance Park (VIALCO) on St. Croix. The affair also serves as an uplifter of sought, reminding participants with special needs that they are not alone.
Valda Jeffers, mother of a special needs child, said it best, “Special Olympics encourages my son and he gets to meet other people with special needs to let him know there are children just like him,” she told The Consortium sometime back.
Yesterday’s event opened with a parade led by St. Croix Central High School JROTC members. Traditionally, governors have attended the event, and yesterday was no exception, with Governor Albert Bryan showing up and interacting with participants. Also in attendance was Senator Kurt Vialet.
The Special Olympics Virgin Islands was put on yesterday by a committee of volunteers, some who have been busy preparing the event for over a month. They include Jenna Castro, Edna Mae Belardo, Cynthia Richards, Angel Romero, Luke Frederick, Teresa Harper, Terry Applewhite, Sheldon La Coss, Kenny Stevens and Janice Lee.
There were several commissioners, acting commissioners, senators and parents in attendance yesterday. “We are working to help parents realize the potential of their athlete,” said Ms. Lee, national director of SOVI.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and competitions to 5 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries. Like the International Paralympic Committee, the Special Olympics organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. However, unlike the Paralympic Games, Special Olympics World Games are not held in the same year or in conjunction with the Olympic Games.
Images courtesy Government House.
Correction: March 24, 2019
A previous version of this story credited the local Territorial Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) office. However, while the office participates, it does not organize the event. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.