Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Braving the elements for a special cause

by Christopher Suarez - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 27th 2018 11:10 pm

With media attention focusing on the Olympics in Pyeongchang, other events do not get the attention they deserve. On Friday, Feb. 23, the Special Olympics in Rochester kicked off. The opening ceremony was held at the Joseph E. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center as it kicked off at 8 p.m.

The opening ceremony included the ceremonial parade, local entertainment and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The opening ceremony included over 1,000 athletes and coaches from all around New York State. It was a sight to see with the athletes all side by side, ready to start the event. 

 The Special Olympics have been going on in New York State now for over 30 years and there is always amazing support for the athletes and everybody involved. People from nearby areas usually volunteer and support the event by doing what they can. This year is no different, as there  are hundreds of volunteers helping to set up the event and make it as perfect as possible. 

The real key to making the event as amazing as possible is the athletes. With athletes coming from all around New York state, there is almost every city and town represented in this year’s events. The games feature athletes from New York City, Genesee Region, Central New York, Western New York, and more. All these athletes come with a specific goal: to win. 

The games had a rather eventful beginning. The year was 1961 and people with disabilities were not spoken about in mainstream media. During the ‘50s there was too much going on to bring awareness for people with disabilities. In the ‘50s, the tension during the Cold War was higher than ever. People were afraid for their life because of the fear of nuclear weapons. 

John F. Kennedy was the man to take over the presidency in the midst of the war. Kennedy became president and had the Cold War to focus on. His sister, on the other hand, was focused on something else. According to Special Olympic Delaware, Eunice Kennedy Shriver launched a campaign to change how the world viewed and treated people with mental disabilities. The reason behind launching the campaign was because of Rosemary Kennedy. Rosemary was the sister of John F. Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Rosemary was mentally disabled, which sparked the drive in Eunice to start this campaign. 

Shriver spent most of the ‘60s spreading knowledge and bringing awareness to mental disabilities. Shriver was able to push the government to pass legislations dealing with mental disabilities and disability rights. 

The most important thing Shriver accomplished was teaching not only America, but the world, that mental and physical disabilities is an actual thing and a lot of people live with them every day. Shriver would go on to start a summer camp in the back of her Maryland home. The summer camp was exclusively for people with disabilities. This summer camp would go on to spark a national movement. The first ever event took place on Soldier Field in Chicago, and that set the tone for the other events to come. 

After the first event took place, the movement would spread internationally. According to specialolympics.org, in February 1988, the International Olympic Committee signed an agreement with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. The agreement was to officially endorse and recognize the Special Olympics globally. This was a historic event as it was the start of the special olympics movement internationally. This would lead to the first international event on March 20, 1993, in Schladming, Austria. 

Now the movement has reached about 170 countries globally, with over 5.3 million athletes participating from all over the world and now the city of Rochester is apart of that. The special olympics did not only bring excitement to the city, but it brought light to everybody in the area of the amazing movement started by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. 



Photo of the Week

Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

Author List