Brave in the Attempt

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Special Olympics in Louisiana Exhibit Now on Display at La. Sports Hall of Fame

An exhibit recognizing 50 years of Special Olympics in Louisiana opened up last weekend in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum. The exhibit will run until January 12 of next year. The exhibit “Brave in the Attempt: Special Olympics in Louisiana” explores the history of Special Olympics with an emphasis on the organization’s efforts in Louisiana.

Natchitoches Wood

The exhibit includes photos and memorabilia from the 50 years of Special Olympics in Louisiana as well as shinning the spotlight on the athletes and trailblazers of Special Olympics. Louisiana Special Olympics former and current dignitaries from around the state attended the opening reception as well as, Special Olympics coaches and athletes and Louisiana State Museum Board officials. The very first display in the exhibit recognizes the founder of Special Olympics, Eunice Kenney Shriver. The sister of John F. Kennedy, she founded Camp Shriver, which started on her Maryland farm known as Timberlawn, and evolved into Special Olympics in 1968.

Her influence and efforts helped spread the Special Olympics across the globe. She even attended one of the early Louisiana State Games for Special Olympics held in Baton Rouge. The exhibit features numerous images and close to 50 artifacts. Among the highlights: swimmer Ashley Arceneaux’s swimsuit, cap and goggles and medals from Special Olympics athletes Matthew and Joseph Guichard. The exhibit also includes a wheelchair specifically crafted for K’Von Albert, who represented Louisiana in the 2010 Special Olympics National Games in Lincoln, Nebraska. Albert, a native of Prairieville, was born with femoral-facial syndrome, a rare disorder that affected the development of his legs and facial features.

Special Olympics Louisiana began in 1968 when 11 athletes from Belle Chasse State School near New Orleans competed in the first International Special Olympics Games held in Chicago. The Special Olympics movement in Louisiana started with the state residential facilities but quickly grew to the pubic school systems. In it’s 50 year run in our state, Louisiana Special Olympics has grown to 20 sports and over 15,000 athletes. The Louisiana Special Olympics State Games are held annually in Hammond at the University of Southwest Louisiana. In fact, the 2018 State Games are just two weeks away. Athletes participate in local or area programs first and then have the opportunity to advance to state, national and world games.

Currently, 15,106 children and adults with intellectual disabilities in Louisiana participate in over approximately 100 competitions. We are also a global social movement. With initiatives to activate youth, engage individuals with and without intellectual disabilities, build communities, and improve the health of our athletes – we’re changing the game for people young and old and asking you to be a part of it all.

Special Olympics Louisiana has over 18,000 dedicated and generous volunteers in Louisiana that contribute their time and expertise to help us reach as many athletes as possible. We must be self-sufficient in raising $2.8 million this year. Special Olympics Louisiana relies upon the generosity of corporate and individual donations, sponsors, civic groups, foundation grants and special events to fund programs. Read this years Headquartered in Hammond, Louisiana Special Olympics is about to have only it’s third Chief Executive Officer. Emile “Boozie” Bourgeois was the very first CEO. He handed the reigns over to Pat Carpenter Bourgeois.

She will end her 46-year tenure with Special Olympics at the end of July when the leadership torch is passed to John Guzzardo. Special Olympics Louisiana (SOLA) is a state wide not-for-profit 501©3 organization that changes lives by promoting understanding, acceptance and inclusion between people with and without intellectual disabilities. It provides sports training and athletic competitions and seeks to transform lives through the joy of sport, everyday, everywhere. Special Olympics Louisiana has over 18,000 dedicated and generous volunteers in Louisiana that contribute their time and expertise to help us reach as many athletes as possible. Perhaps no group is as supportive as those in law enforcement.

Each summer, law enforcement officials carry the Flame of Hope across the state culminating with the Torch Run Final Leg, and the lighting of the cauldron to officially open the Special Olympics Louisiana Summer Games in Hammond. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has two goals – to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Louisiana.

This torch relay involves more than 5,500 law enforcement officers and personnel representing more than 200 law enforcement agencies across Louisiana. The 2018 Law Enforcement Torch Run will take place on May 14th-May 20th.