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Friday, January 20, 2012

Replacing Discrimination With Smiles And Joy

One of the most profound and joyous open water swimming events Open Water Source has witnessed since 1968 was the Special Olympics World Summer Games in the Bay of Marathon near Greece.

The intensity of the athletes intensity and their obvious heartfelt appreciation of the competition, their coaches, volunteers and staff made a significant impression on all who saw the 1.5K swim in the Bay of Marathon in Greece in July 2011.

One of those spectators was Tim Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics, who spoke eloquently of the athletes and lauded the volunteers and staff who made it all happen in Greece - and every day around the world.

Whether the athlete finished first or 30th, they charged up the beach to the finish. Smiling, waving and occasionally crying with tears glistening in the sun, the competition culminated a decade of dreams and years of planning by open water enthusiasts like Kester Edwards, Jon-Paul St. Germain and Sam Silver.

The success in the Bay of Marathon led to the subsequent inclusion of an open water swimming event in the next Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles, California in 2015.

But, as Tim Shriver knows all too well, the Special Olympics is not just about athletic contests. He writes, "Please read this. Some have questioned why we in Special Olympics have mounted a campaign to challenge the humiliating use of the word, "retard." Others have sometimes suggested that Special Olympics has gone beyond its mission in mounting the world's largest public health campaign to close the disparities and outright bigotry that still infect systems of care delivery for people with intellectual differences. Still others wonder why so many of us speak with such passion about how sport is needed to unleash the power of the human spirit and to attack the vicious discrimination that so often crushes innocent people unjustly.

I say to all of them, open your eyes to the discrimination that goes unchecked all around us and help us stop it now!

The smiles, hugs of appreciation and tears of joys that were in abundance in the Bay of Marathon at the World Summer Games can and should be replicated endlessly and substituted for the discrimination that Tim points out.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

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