Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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20180217 STOpening-CeremonyMore than 1,000 Special Olympians gathered at Sharyland Pioneer High School last Saturday to display their skills on the court as Pioneer hosted the annual Rio Grande Valley Special Olympics basketball competition for the third consecutive year.


RGV Special Olympics Area 1 Director Lauro Garza said the competition has grown every year and Pioneer High’s five basketball courts gives the athletes plenty of room to have fun while showcasing their dribbling, passing and shooting skills.


As the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities, the Special Olympics transforms the lives of 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries through its sports competitions.


The day started with the Special Olympics athlete’s oath ready by James Mosley from IDEA San Juan to a packed house of athletes, families and fans during the opening ceremony. The oath, which was introduced 50 years ago by Eunice Kennedy Shriver at the Inaugural Special Olympics international games in Chicago, reads, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”


The competitions featured individual dribbling skills, shooting on 8 ft. and 10 ft. rims, passing skills and concluded with 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 games.


Garza said the main goal of the Special Olympics competitions is participation and inclusion.


“We don’t focus on their disabilities, we focus on their abilities,” he said. “By participating in the different athletic competitions we offer, the students not only have fun and get to be around their friends, but they also develop self-esteem and they have an opportunity to benefit from all the positive things participation in sports gives you.”


No participant leaves empty-handed as medals, ribbons and certificates were awarded to the top finishers and each competitor who took part.


The basketball competition used to be held at Weslaco High School, but for the third year in a row, Pioneer has hosted the growing games.


RGV Special Olympics Area 1 Coordinator Marylou Trinidad said the reason the Special Olympics basketball competition continues to become bigger each year.


“Every year it just grows,” said Trinidad. “It’s by word of mouth and by the excitement that the volunteers show and the athletes that go home, showing their enthusiasm.”