Mrs. Esther Jegede, a proud mother of one of those who flew the Nigerian flag at the just concluded Special Olympic Games watches in admiration as her son, Samuel dances to the beats booming from the speakers. Words cannot express her feelings right now as tears of joy roll down her beautiful cheeks. Finally, Samuel who many has always described as liability and a no- good is now a superstar, all thanks to his remarkable performance at the just concluded Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, United States of America.
While recounting how Samuel’s father left her to tend to him alone, after saying he could never have fathered such a child, Mrs. Jegede with tears of joy rolling down her cheeks said, “He told me Samuel was not his, as no one in his family has a disability. I was left alone to tend to him and his other siblings. Because he was not very sound in school, I tried enrolling him in several technical schools to learn handicraft, but Samuel had a mind of his own. He was passionate about playing basketball. At some point, I had to let him be.
‘’Today, I thank God that his passion has led him to where he is now. Today, my son is a superstar signing autographs everywhere he goes.” She narrated, at a grand reception put together by
Having been the only one responsible for the wellbeing of her son, one could imagine how relieved Mrs. Jegede must be to have Special Olympics Nigeria (SON) and
For her part, another parent, Pastor (Mrs.) Chineyere Ezeama, mother of Chukwudi Wisdom Ezeama, the highest goal scorer in the Unified Soccer tournament, while sharing her ordeal raising Chukwudi, encouraged parents of disabled children to see them as special gifts from God. “It is not a mistake that I gave birth to Chukwudi and he has proven it. Children are a gift from God with special talents, regardless of their conditions. I always told Chukwudi to look beyond his physical disability and focus on the talent God has deposited in him.”
From a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities to a global movement, the Special Olympics alongside
In Nigeria, where it is also actively involved in the Nigerian affiliation of the games,
Speaking at the reception, Managing Director,
In his words, “Coca-Cola Nigeria is committed to advancing an inclusive society, where everyone can achieve his or her dreams. One of our ongoing campaigns, ‘A Billion Reasons to Believe’ speaks volumes of this commitment. No doubt, the Special Olympics has empowered and inspired thousands of persons with intellectual disabilities to believe in their abilities and reach their dreams. We are happy to be part of this movement inspiring belief.”
Corroborating the Adetunji, Chairman, Special Olympics Nigeria Board of Directors, Victor Gbolade Osibodu expressed gratitude to Coca-Cola Nigeria, even as he described the beverage giant as a reliable sponsor, whose steadfast support has grown in leaps and bounds over the years.
Perhaps, what makes
Commending the two volunteer employees, Adetunji said, “Our excitement at this particular victory is enriched by the fact that our representatives contributed in their own way to bring us the Soccer Gold Medals. We are extremely proud of these
In his response, Ekomabasi remarked that he had a great time playing together with his team members who he described as highly talented. “I learnt a lot from these amazing guys. It was not difficult working with them because they are very selfless, talented and inspiring. More so, I also learnt from them how to communicate using sign language.” He quipped.
With two medals to his credit, Samuel who suffers from speech impairment recapped the excitement of Los Angeles. “Everywhere I went, everyone wanted my autograph. I am glad that I was focused and believed strongly in my dreams.”
The 42 member Nigerian contingent to the Special Olympics World Games participated in seven sporting activities, including Table Tennis, Athletics, Badminton, Aquatics, Basketball, Cycling, and Unified Soccer grabbing a whopping 71 medals made up of 36 Gold, 26 Silver and 9 Bronze medals. This is the highest any Nigerian contingent to any global event has ever gotten. It is hoped that by 2017, when the next games will hold, Team Nigeria would surpass the number, especially if they get support from everybody, including the government.
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