Children and Parents

The Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria 2017 is nearly upon us...and this Aspie is here to cover it.

Photo credits: Freddie B. Photography™ (Copyright 2017)

     It's almost here...the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event.  An event that will inspire and "move" people in ways and to the depth seldom experienced.  An event to be attended by thousands and that will be watched by people from all across the globe: the Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria 2017.

     From March 18th to March 25th, the country of Austria will be hosting the Special Olympic World Winter Games 2017 with over 2700 Special Olympic athletes and 1000 coaches from 170 countries in attendance along with 10,000 volunteers.  Witnessing these inspirational examples of courage, accomplishment, and determination will be thousands in attendance with countless numbers watching from their television sets from homes all across the world.  These athletes will be competing in Alpine Skiing, Cross Country Skiing, Figure Skating, Speed Skating, Floor Hockey, Floorball, Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, and Stick Shooting at locations in Schladming-Rohrmoos, Graz and Ramsau and will be televised via ESPN with live coverage of the opening ceremonies.

Remembering Olivia Quigley (1992-2016)...an Inspiration for Us All!

     It was near the end of a long day at the Katherine B. Loker Track & Field Staduim at USC, Los Angles, where I had been covering a variety of Special Olympic World Games LA 2015 athletic events since earlier in the day as a media photographer for Specialneeds.com.  I had taken hundreds of photos of several different track events that day, and thousands during the previous week of a variety of different events at a variety of different venues; the games were almost over and I was exhausted.  I started to pack up my gear as I was about to call it the day; I had so much work to do as a result of the day's coverage, when one fo the referees on the field whispered to me, "You might want to stick around for a special athlete competing soon."  

Message of Peace Unveiled at Rio Landmark

The giant flag was divided into seven pieces to be transported up to the Christ statue © • Rio 2016/Alex Ferro. By Rio 2016

Giant mosaic made up of 500 flags designed by local schoolchildren goes on show ahead of official opening of Paralympics.

   

Special Olympic Southern California Summer Games 2016

     Photo credits: Freddie B. Photography™ (Copyright 2016)

 I woke up on the morning of June 11 in Long Beach to an overcast & foggy morning, with the forecasted promise of light rain throughout the morning.  The average person would think to themselves how dreary the day to come would be.  But then again, the average person probably hasn't been to a Special Olympics event, for if they knew what the day held for me, they'd realize that nothing would put a damper on the joy that would be experienced and seen that day during the Special Olympics Southern California Summer games.  I already knew better for I have had the honor and privilege of attending a variety of other Special Olympics events in the past and have witnessed firsthand the most endearing and inspiring examples of the human spirit and joy, and I knew the summer games would be no exception.

Special Olympics Southern California Global Messenger Runs the LA 2016 Marathon

     Photo Credits: Freddie B. Photography™


     When Luke Farnell, the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) Manager of Law Enforcement Torch Run & Special Events, mentioned to me during a phone conversation that a Special Needs athlete was going to participate in the upcoming LA Marathon as part of the SOSC team, I did not hesitate one iota to agree to cover the athlete and his involvement.  Little did I know the athlete would be one I became friends with when I had the privilege of working with him on a couple of occasions, and captured images of, during my involvement with the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles in the latter part of last year. 

     In my past 30 years of living in Southern California, I never attended the LA Marathon, either as a spectator or a participant for a variety of reasons.  But that has now changed and for a very good reason - the involvement in the marathon of an organization that I believe in so much, and have received an abundance of overwhelming and emotional inspiration from over the course of the last year, The Special Olympics. 

An Inspirational Day at the Special Olympics Southern California 2015 Fall Games

     This is it - what over 1100 athletes having what I call, “special gifts” have been waiting for, and training for all year: The Special Olympics Southern California Fall Games.  The Fall Games were held at three different venues - Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, & Irvine with athletes competing in six sports: bowling, floor hockey, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball, with an expected attendance of more than 4000 athletes, coaches, volunteers, and spectators over the course of the two-day event.  As a photojournalist who desires to cover it all, I had to reluctantly select only one venue: Fountain Valley Recreation Center and Sports Park where the soccer and tennis events would be held.

Special Olympics Riverside Softball Team Takes the Gold at the Inland Empire Regional Fall Games

      Ever since I had the honor of spending nine days of my life from sunup to sundown covering the Special Olympic World Games LA 2015 this last July as a media photographer for Specialneeds.com, I yearned to continue my involvement in the Special Olympics whenever and wherever I could.  Not only because I learned just before the games that I shared one of the same “Special Gifts” as those competing athletes, but more importantly, because I found in these athletes a joy, courage, and passion that inspired me beyond words.  As a result, I felt a “need”--a blessed obligation--to witness more of this and to share what I saw with those that would listen to my words and read the words I would write in the hopes this infectious inspiration would “rub” off in some way.

Dain Blanton: A True Hero & Olympian

Our venue is a unified game with the former Olympians and athletes at the Alamitos Park, Long Beach. The day was perfect for a game and everyone was excited to be playing alonside Olympians from yesterday. SpecialNeeds.com was delighted to be catching up with one of our super-stars, Dain Blanton. He won the gold for beach volleyball in the 2000 Olympic Games. He is still very active in the sport and loves to support Special Olympics with his whole heart.

An Aspie Photographer at the Special Olympic World Games 2015

When Specialneeds.com correspondent Robin Flutterby Borakove; someone I recently met at a photoshoot, asked me in early 2015 if I wanted to join her to cover the Special Olympic World Games as a media photographer for Specialneeds.com, I did not take but half a second to say, “YES!”  I knew I wanted to be a part of and contribute to what was to come because my own life had been, and still was being impacted by the same “special gifts” as some of those that would be competing in the games; both my adult son Joshua and I have Asperger’s Syndrome.