Team USA vs. Team Morocco - With Heart and Soul, there are no losers!

     The Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria 2017 was an event filled with athletes having more heart and soul, and sheer determination, that I have witnessed in any group of people.  Special Olympics is more than just competitors striving to win over their opponents, and in my opinion, has a much more deeper and meaningful level: to give these inspirational men and women, both young and old, a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their abilities and talents in a world that in many cases does not have the pleasure or insight to see.

Team USA Snowboarders Take the Gold at Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria 2017

Photo Credits: Freddie B. Photography™

    The biggest challenge I place upon myself as a photojournalist covering Special Olympic events is that I try to cover as many events and as many athletes as I can.  And the biggest on-going regret as I have as a photojournalist covering Special Olympic events, is that I am unable to cover them all for I yearn to do my part to help bring the spotlight to all of these most deserving athletes with all their displays of courage, abilities, and celebrations of triumph for they deserve no less.   This will be a delimma; an emotion I consider not a bad thing as it comes from a good place within my heart, that I will struggle with for all the time I cover Special Olympic events, which, if I am blessed enough, will not end anytime soon.

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.  

The Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria 2017

Photo Credits: Freddie B. Photography™

    A day to be remembered...the Opening Ceremonies of the Special Olympic World Games Austria 2017.  Held at the Planai Stadium in the Austria city of Schladming on March 18th, the day began with a drizzle that evolved into a light rain accompanying most of the ceremonies.  But this did not seem to stave off the masses from coming to witness such a spectacular event nor did it appear to dampen the spirits and outwardly buzz of excitement of the participating athletes.  I know for me, in spite of my fruitless efforts to keep my camera dry in the media pit area, was almost ignorant of the rain's presence due to being caught up in the many soul-touching moments.

The first day of Sports Competition - Divisioning and the Arrival of the Flame of Hope in the city of Graz

Photo Credits: Freddie B. Photography™

    The first day of the sports competition for the Special Olympic World Winter Games Austria  2017, the divisioning of the the teams from around the world.  Divisioning is a unique system used by Special Olympics to give athletes of all ablities the chance for exciting competition and usually occurs before the start of the World Games competitions.   What happens is that divisioning races, judge events, or short team matches are held to assess the athletes' or teams' ability levels in competition by team ratings or skill level.  The athletes or teams are grouped into the divisions according to three criteria: gender, age and ability level., and there are a minimum of three and a maximum of eight athletes or teams in a division.  The divisioning took place at all three different Special Olympic World Winter Games venues: Schladming, Ramsau, and Graz with the winter sports ranging from Cross Country & Alpine skiing to Figure & Speed Skating to Floor Hockey & Floorball, to Snowboarding and Snow Shoeing.

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.

On Being Rare

We just celebrated Rare Disease Day on February 29th, which in itself is rare!

Having a child with a rare diagnosis is a hard, wonderful, terrifying, liberating, and exhausting thing.  There are 6,000-8,000 rare diseases that have been identified.  Then there are cases like many of our friends who do not have an official diagnosis.