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Loretta Claiborne to participate in Kadena Special Olympics Program

Date Posted: 2001-06-08

The Day has finally arrived when the athletes will take their mark and demonstrate their true competitive spirit of accomplishment and pride on Saturday, 16 June, at the 2001 Special Olympics, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Japan.

Come join the Kadena Special Olympics Committee (a chartered, private volunteer organization at Kadena) in partnership with the municipalities of Okinawa City, Kadena Town, Chatan Town, and the Okinawa Prefecture Government with the help of many co-partners island-wide in sponsoring the Second Annual Kadena Special Olympic Games.

The date, if you don’t already have it marked on your calendar is Saturday, 16 June. Opening Ceremonies begin at 0930 at the Kadena Risner Fitness Complex.

The day is full of athletic competitions in addition, to entertainment, food and festivities for the entire family. Whether or not you are a volunteer or a spectator you will be filled with the excitement of the day’s events.

The following, schedule of events are just few of the activities scheduled for the day. So take the family, come out, and support our athletes in their attempts for the gold.

0930: Parade and Opening Ceremonies- See Special Olympics Gold Medal Winner Loretta Claiborne light the Olympic Flame and recite the oath.

1030: Let the Games Begin….
30M and 200M races
Wheel Chair Softball Throw
50M and 100M races

1130-1230: IIIMEF Band Concert

1230-1330: 400M relay races

1300: Japan Wheel Dance League

1300: Ground Golf
Frisbee Toss
Soccer Skills
Basketball Skills

1630: Closing Ceremony

The entertainment for the day will take place on two stages. The Kadena community has the pleasure of welcoming, The Kadena Women’s Barbershop Chorus, the R&B sounds of “Q,” Kellie Wright and the Blue Diamond, the jazz sounds of Prophecy, the Batac Kidz, and the Okinawa Giant Cheerleaders. Not to mention there will be face painting, clowns and all day showing of videos and DVD’s courtesy of our friends at AAFES.

So if you think that there is nothing for you to do at the Special Olympics, think again. The talents and dedication of these athletes and performers will enrich you.

Come out and show your support and enthusiasm. For more information you can access the Special Olympics link at www.kadena.af.mil. For information on volunteering opportunities attend the one of the volunteer meetings at the Keystone Theater on Saturday, 9 June at 0900 or Monday, 11 June @ 1000. Rain or Shine the 2001 Special Olympics will be played.

There are accredited Special Olympics programs in nearly 150 countries. Special Olympics programs are continually being developed around the world.

One of the special guests to the Kadena Special Olympics is Loretta Clairborne.

Loretta Claiborne, 46, has proved time and again to be a world-class sportswoman and source of inspiration to others. Loretta was born into a large, poor, single-parent family in York, Pennsylvania. Partially blind and unable to walk or talk until the age of four, she faced ridicule and humiliation because of these disabilities and her mental retardation while growing up. Frustrated and angry as a child and young teen, Loretta was always getting into fights. Her temper got her thrown out of high school and out of a job. But the unrelenting love of her mother, Rita, helped give Loretta the wisdom not to blame anyone else for her problems.

A kind and attentive teacher first encouraged her love of running, but it was not until a feisty social worker, Janet McFarland, brought Loretta and Special Olympics together that Loretta’s great athletic gifts were revealed. Special Olympics and the discovery of her own running ability changed her life.

Loretta Claiborne has competed in more than 25 marathons, finishing among the 25 fastest women runners in the Pittsburgh Marathon, twice finishing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon, and most recently winning a gold medal in the 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games half-marathon (13.5 miles). She also excels in other sports, including figure skating and bowling.

Outside of Special Olympics, Loretta Claiborne holds a fourth-degree black belt in martial arts; speaks four languages, including sign language; and holds an honorary doctorate degree from Quinnipiac College in Hamden, Connecticut - the first person with mental retardation known to receive such an honor. Loretta is a passionate advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities.

In 1996 she appeared on ESPN’s ESPY Awards show to accept the coveted Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. "If I could take this award and break it up into a million pieces," Claiborne said in her acceptance speech at the ESPY Awards, "I would like to do that and split it with every Special Olympics athlete."

The Walt Disney Studios recognized the unique nature of Loretta Claiborne’s triumph and has recently completed a feature film on her life so that all will be able to take inspiration from her courageous life.

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