Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Tim Shriver and NBA Star Sam Perkins take to the rink in the Special Olympics World Games Unified Sports Experience

Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Tim Shriver and NBA Star Sam Perkins take to the rink in the Special Olympics World Games Unified Sports Experience

Photo Credit: Freddie B. Photography™

       The Unified Sports Experience (USE) is a Special Olympics program that brings together Special Olympics athletes, professional and Olympic athletes, dignitaries and celebrities on the same team in a one-day sports competition event as to, in part, to provide an inclusive and competitive experience.  The USE stems from Unified Sports, which is a program that promotes social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences for individuals with and without intellectual disabilities with more than 1.2 million people throughout the world taking part in the program.  

     On Monday, March 20th, Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, and his wife Linda Potter took to the hockey rink in the Graz convention center for their turn in a USE event - floor hockey.  Dr. Shriver gave it his all, and on one occasion, after Dr. Shriver took a bold shot at the goal and sailed the puck in for the point, took an uninhibited victory jig - a professional hockey player he may not be, but you would never know by the sheer effort he put forth.  Linda was no less determined as she gracefully glided across the hockey rink, jockeying for control of the puck whenever the opportunity arose.

Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Perkins (Red helmet)Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Perkins (Red helmet)Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Perkins (Red helmet)Special Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Perkins (Red helmet) does a little jig after shooting the puck into the goalSpecial Olympics Chairman Dr. Timothy Perkins (Red helmet) does a little jig after shooting the puck into the goalLinda PotterLinda Potter goes for the puck

 Among the professional athletes participating in the USE that day, was retired NBA professional basketball player Sam Perkins and who, among other accomplishments, won a gold medal with the US Olympic Team at the 1984 Los Angeles games.  When I read up on Perkins, I discovered he is known by the nicknames "Sleeping Sam" and "Big Smooth."  I sure know where the "Big" came from as he stands 6 ft., 9 in. and well over 200 lbs. with a hulking frame not appearing to have an ounce of body fat, which would allow him to effortless push through any defensive line he came across.  Because the USE is more about a fun and inclusive experience for the Special Olympic athletes and less about winning, Perkins kept himself reserved.  But on a few occasions when Perkins did have his turn at the puck, his nickname "Big Smooth" rang true.

NBA star Sam PerkinsNBA star Sam PerkinsNBA star Sam Perkins takes a shot at the goal

     But the true stars of the USE competitions were the multi-national Special Olympic athletes themselves.  The various teams were comprised of athletes from Costa Rica, Morocco, Kenya, Egypt, Austria, South Africa, Mexico, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Nigeria, and Trinidad and Tobago.  Even though most of them only spoke their native language, teamsmanship apparently broke the language barrier for these athletes played as if the necessity to speak to one another to work as a team was a unnessary endeavor.  I watched as these athletes played with tireless effort as if the very idea of giving up was a a notion unknown to them.  I am like a broken record repeating what is a constant for me in all my years covering the Special Olympics: I am inspired and "moved" beyond words these athletes that show us all that having "heart" and "determination" knows no bounds.  


To learn more about Unified Sports, visit this link: http://www.specialolympics.org/unified-sports.aspx

No votes yet
Written by: Fred Neil Bommer II (Freddie B. of Freddie B. Photography) See other articles by Fred Neil Bommer II (Freddie B. of Freddie B. Photography)
About the Author:

     
Freddie B.Fred Neil Bommer II, aka Freddie B., was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in July 2015 after he recently discovered his adult son was suspected of having it, then researching it himself, which solved his lifelong mystery about why he was the way he was and was so different from most others.  But in spite of the life’s challenges and struggles Freddie B. experienced as an "Aspie" throughout his life, he discovered an "escape" early on--photography, followed by a passion for writing. 

      In early 2015, Freddie B. put his love and passion of photography to use by becoming a photographer for Specialneeds.com, ultimately covering the nine days of the Special Olympic World Games LA 2015 in the latter part of July as a credentialed media photographer.  Then a few months later, Freddie B. was able to add his love and passion for writing to the mix by becoming a credentialed photojournalist for Specialneeds.com.

     Freddie B. is a member of the Professional Photographer's of America Assn. (PPA), the National Press Photographers Assn. (NPPA), Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), National Sports Media Association (NSMA), and aspires to be a freelance photojournalist traveling abroad beginning in early 2017.

     To read more about Freddie B. and view samples of his photographic work, including that of the Special Olympic World Games LA2015 (Special Olympic World Games LA 2015 Commemorative Special Edition Magazine) and other Special Olympic events he has covered, please visit his web page at www.freddiebphotography.com.., his Facebook page @Freddie B. Photography, and his Instagram profile: #FreddieBPhotography.

We recommend:
The Picture Cookbook, No-Cook Recipes for the Special Chef http://www.specialneeds.com/sites/specialneeds.com/files/975585983.jpg Improving Social Behaviors in the Classroom
The Picture Cookbook, No-Cook Recipes for the Special Chef Super Silly Sayings That Are Over Your Head Improving Social Behaviors in the Classroom
USD 0.00 USD 16.95 USD 0.00