Special Olympics blue ribbon awarded to Loretta Claiborne in 1970 for placing first in the 50 yard dash. Claiborne attributes the Special Olympics for saving her life. Born with intellectual disabilities and partially blind, Claiborne developed anger issues from constant teasing at school. Introduced to the Special Olympics by social worker Janet McFarland, she was able to channel her anger into success on the track winning countless medals for her efforts. Claiborne still runs every day and holds the record in the 5000 meters for her age group. She is also a motivational speaker who speaks four languages including American Sign Language. Claiborne has a fourth degree black belt in karate, has completed 26 marathons and her 1996 ESPY Award- Arthur Ashe Award for Courage is one of many accolades she has won over the years.
From its beginnings as Camp Shriver in Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s backyard, to the first international games in 1968, Special Olympics has been about giving people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in sport. This participation builds confidence, provides emotional support and offers social opportunities for the athletes and their families. With state chapters and a global presence through its World Games, “Special Olympics is the largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities with 5 million athletes in 170 countries worldwide.”
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