Like the Olympics and Paralympics, the goal of the Special Olympics is to promote social inclusion through the power of sport. However, the latter, which includes athletes with intellectual impairment, carries a bigger mission – it seeks to break down the barriers of marginalisation and encourage greater compassion in a misunderstood society.
First things first: Special Olympics and Paralympics are different from each other although they’re both recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). For example, the Special Olympics are catered for those with intellectual disability but those competing in the Paralympics can be part of any one or combination of six main disabilities categories such as spinal injuries, amputee, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, intellectual impairment, etc.
To educate and foster wider acceptance of these special athletes in the country, Special Olympics Malaysia (SOM) is sending a delegation of 52 athletes and coaches to compete in the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2019 in Abu Dhabi. That’s more than the 23 athletes who competed in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.
The quandary of Special Olympics, however, is that while it’s an organisation that’s peddling good will, it still doesn’t garner as much financial support from the government as other sporting events where results are more quantifiable.
“With a direct funding requirement at approximately RM20,000 per athlete, which includes the cost of coaches and support staff needed to attend, [this] means SOM needs to raise at least RM500,000 to bring a full contingent to the Abu Dhabi World Games in 2019,” says Nur Azida Dato’ Daud, the current IMC Chair of SOM.
To help people with disabilities realise their full potential, the SOM with Special Olympics Kuala Lumpur are organising a musical gala dinner themed ‘Music is the Universal Language of Love’ on April 21, 8pm to raise funds. Local singers Zamil Idris and Juwita Suwito will be performing for the night, accompanied by the University Malaysia Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Prof. Dr. Mohd Nasir Hashim.
Tables start from RM5,000, with three-course western dinner prepared by Equatorial Hotel Group. Complimentary tickets for a charity concert on Apr 22 will also be given away.
For further enquiries, call 010 557 9787 or email [email protected]. The World Games are set for Mar 14 to 21, 2019 in Abu Dhabi.