Team Illinois wanted to give you a perspective from each of it’s 3 members. We had an amazing time at Opening Ceremonies!
Kim- (Coach Perspective)
As a coach and chaperone for the Global Youth Summit, participating in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2011 World Games was one of the best nights of my life. Being able to walk with Jordan and Alli and the rest of the GYAS participants for the first time in GYAS was overwhelming and emotional. I could only think of how far Special Olympics has come since I started volunteering and how much these GYAS participants and athletes deserved this. Being able to see Special Olympics on a global level has been a lifelong dream and the Opening Ceremonies did not let me down. As a coach, I could not have been more proud to see all of the athletes walking in. As a chaperone for GYAS, I was so excited to be an observer of this amazing youth movement and felt the weight of what these youth are about to accomplish. I found myself feeling proud and emotional while watching these ceremonies with the Acropolis glowing in the background of this historic moment for me, the GYAS and Special Olympics.
Alli- (Peer perspective)
Words cannot describe how amazing walking into the opening ceremonies was. You know how in the movies, sports players walk onto the field and they look around at everyone and all of the flashing lights in awe? This was just like that. It was so surreal. Watching every country walk onto the stage made me realize why we are here and how much of an impact the Global Youth has the potential to make. We are going to get more supporters, programs and are going to help motivate these hard working athletes even more. The Global Messengers were such a huge inspiration to me. As they spoke about their greatest accomplishment, ranging from getting married to winning a medal and dedicating it to their best friend, I was moved by how much these people could accomplish. Their inspiration motivates me to work even more when I get back, so that every person with a disability has the opportunity to live up to their full potential. I know these athletes will be able to do whatever they want on and off the playing field. Participating in the opening ceremonies is something I will never forget.
Jordan (Athlete perspective)
I have been competing in Special Olympics for many years in three different sports. I have been in many high adrenaline situations but last night, I had the biggest non-competitive adrenaline rush. Imagine leading your team out of the locker room and onto the field in the Super Bowl. That was what it was like leading off the introductions to the 2011 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremonies. That night included lots of excitement with a bunch of Greek singing and dancing, an amazing performance by Stevie Wonder, and being less that a football length away from NBA superstar Yao Ming, here representing the athletes of his native country China. However, out of all of those, the best part of the night was hearing from twelve Global Messengers from all parts of the world. They talked about what their greatest victory has been. I learned that winning a gold medal is not the only victory in Special Olympics. Some of the answers included getting married, going to school and getting a good education, having a successful job and many others. Although some of them did not speak English, I could still understand that they worked hard and truly deserved whatever it was. As for myself, my biggest victory (other than winning four championships in basketball) is being part of one of the biggest youth movements in the world.