Town and County of Antigonish and StFX co-host special olympics
5 Days, 13 Provinces and Territories, 315 Coaches and 1,025 Athletes with one common goal; to prove that they have what it takes to compete on the global stage for their country. This year’s Special Olympics Summer Games may have come to a close, but the lasting impact they have had will continue for years.
The games were particularly special for me and my family, seeing my brother Patrick, who has Down Syndrome, compete on a national stage and seeing it happen at the university I am so proud to attend. Patrick competed in the swimming events and participated in 4 individual races and 2 relays. In addition, he also plays with the Special Olympics basketball team but did not compete with them at these games. Seeing Patrick’s excitement as he walked on campus for the first time, just thrilled to spend the week living where his older brother does, was beyond worth the plane ticket. From the moment Patrick met up with his teammates he always had a smile on his face and was trying to soak up every minute he could.
The Special Olympics mean the world to Patrick. It is where he meets his friends and plays the sports he loves with people who support him and share a passion for the game. It is where he has made some lifelong friends and learned the value of competition and sportsmanship. It really shows you how excited all the athletes are when they finish a race, and everyone starts cheering for each other and the different swimmers, it becomes an immensely humbling experience to see these people who are competing for a place on team Canada giving a high five or a hug to their competitor that beat them to the finish, you can’t find that anywhere else in sports. It is remarkable just how much the athletes teach you what it means to be a human, and how compassion goes such a long way.
The games have given Patrick opportunities to grow and improve as both an individual and an athlete that he would not be able to ordinarily. Seeing him excited to go to practise and get that little bit better and then come home beaming about his new techniques he learned or how he got to spend time with his friends really makes the difference in his life. And that practise sure paid off, in all of the events Patrick competed in he had 3 personal bests for his fastest time, won four medals and competed better than any of us could have hoped, and it makes us immensely proud of his achievements. It is these experiences that are so important to us, to give Patrick the chance to excel at sport where he would be shunned from because of his disability, and to get a chance to socialize with people who care about him just as much as he cares about everyone he meets.
Special Olympics decided that they would do something different for their 50th anniversary and decided to take a chance on a small town in central Nova Scotia. This was the first time in the history of the Canadian Special Olympics that they have hosted the games in a small town, and from being there and feeling the atmosphere I would say that it was a huge success. I was especially impressed at how well embraced the games were, whenever we went out for dinner or went to the grocery store there were always people coming up to us asking if we were out for the games and interested in where we were from and what events my brother was in. You can’t find that kind of hospitality anywhere else. From all of the volunteers taking time out of their lives to help make the games possible to the companies that donated money and goods to bring an east coast vibe, the games were well executed and presented. The town of Antigonish itself should be proud for opening its doors to the rest of the nation and doing it with the utmost kindness and compassion. It really made the games that much more extraordinary for my family and we cannot thank everyone involved enough for their part in making dreams come true.