National Special Olympics Games in Belmopan

“Let me win, but if I cannot, let me be brave in the attempt.” that is the motto of the Belize Special Olympics and on Friday that theme was put into practice as kids from all six districts competed in unified sports at the National Special Olympics competitions held at the Governor General’s Field in Belmopan. Emanuel Pech was there and has this report.

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The Belize National Special Olympics games kicked off early this morning with the arrival of the Torch. The annual law enforcement torch run made its way to the Capital City at around 8 o clock this morning. The Belize Police Department took up the gauntlet in 2012 and since then they have been leading the torch run as a means of raising funds for the Belize Special Olympics. The torch run started in Corozal earlier this week.

Douglas Hyde, Public Relations Coordinator, tells us more.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-09-10h31m31s28Douglas Hyde – Public Relations Coordinator, Police Torch Run

“We actually started in Corazol.  We started off on Tuesday morning, with 15 Police Officers from the Corazol Formation, and with almost 60 students.  We ran from Corazol to Orange Walk, the first day.  The second day we started from Orange Walk and we went up to Crooked Tree areas and and Ladyville. The third day was basically run from Ladyville to Belize City. 

It has been really, really good.  The excitement and, of course, the energy that the Police Officers, along with those who have joined us, has been really, really well.

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Emanuel Pech

“What is the sentiment of the kids who actually get to hold that torch and participate in that memorable event?

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Douglas Hyde

“I’ve seen the smiles on the kid’s faces, especially when we had kids  holding the torch in Corazol and Orange Walk.  It has been an experience, I think, they will never forget, especially with the Police Officers who are by their side.”

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The run included members from the Police Department, Coast Guard, the BDF, Immigration Officers, and of course the Belize Special Olympics athletes.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-09-10h48m30s147Sergent Eric Caramo – Deputy Commanding Officer, Community Policing

“Presently our fund raising status is close to six thousand five hundred, up to date.  The funds are coming through the Law Enforcement Torch Run, which we collect funds throughout the duration of the period  and places we have been visiting, also from the different Police Formations.  Each formation has been raising funds within their area, each District to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, Special Olympics, Belize.”

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Emanuel Pech

“All the moneys are going  to Special Olympics?

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Sergent Eric Caramo

“Yes, all the monies that we raise.  We will minus the expense, and then we will send it to Special Olympics, Belize.”

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Then, after a brief ceremony, the games were declared open.

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“Good Morning everyone.  I welcome you to the Special Olympics Games, and declare the games open.”

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The kids participated in three major sporting events: track and field, football, and bocce. Dr. Candy Armstrong, chairperson of the board of directors for the Belize Special Olympics, explained the importance of unified sports.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h38m47s93Dr. Candy Armstrong – Chair of Belize Special Olympics

“Unified sports is something that we’re really pushing towards in Belize.  It is where an athlete with a disability is partnered with another person without a disability.  There are some criteria, in terms of the age differences, but most importantly the athlete and the partner have a matched skill set.  So the partner could not have a skill set that is way above that of the athlete.  So they get to compete in a fair way.   

It gives both our children and youths with intelectual disabilities an opportunity to develop in a wholistic way.  It builds them spiritually, mentally, physically, and psycologically.

Very inportantly, in events like these, is the community and family involvement.  So, if you look  around, you will see a lot of friends, family, and members of the community supporting the athletes.  So, that’s very important.”

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One very special Special Olympics athlete is 17 year old Jasmin Flores, the captain of the Bocce team who will be travelling to Las Angeles, California next year for the international games.

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vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h30m50s193Jasmin Flores – Special Olympics Athlete

“I’m excited.  My friends are excited, even my family”

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Reporting for Plus News Emanuel Pech.

Special Olympics has been in Belize for many years but became officially recognized as an organization in 2008. The overall winners for the 2014 games were announced earlier today. First with the most points was the Northern Region, second was the Southern Region and third was the Central Region. The 2015 games are to take place in Belize City.

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