The Most Loved Person on Green Turtle Cay

My heart, like so many others, was shattered this morning when I learned that Green Turtle Cay’s Eric Sawyer, passed away unexpectedly last night.

Eric was the most joyful soul I have ever known. He was kind and funny and gregarious, and had more friends than any of us could count.

He kept careful track of birthdays and hand-made cards for family and friends. With his funny Facebook photos and comments, and updates about his favourite TV show, “Girl meets World”, he made us laugh.

Eric was a long-time Special Olympian who trained and competed in both bocce and track and field. He loved to travel, and just this past week returned from his annual Buddy Cruise.

Continue reading

Bahamas Special Olympians Featured at LETR International Conference

Four Bahamian Special Olympians — Deangelo Bullard, Austin Green, Latonia Rahming and Vashni Thompson — recently served as Global Messengers at the 2015 Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) International Conference held at Atlantis October 1-3.

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Deangelo (far left), Latonia, Austin and Vashni (fourth, fifth and sixth from left) with LETR International members at the organization’s annual conference in October. (Photo: http://letrconference.smugmug.com/)

Through the Global Messenger program, Special Olympians around the world share their personal stories, encourage others with intellectual disabilities to join the Special Olympics program, and promote messages of inclusion and equality for people with intellectual disabilities.

Not only did Latonia, Vashni, Austin and Deangelo detail their own journeys for the 1,000 LETR conference delegates, but they helped to introduce other event speakers, including Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie, Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade, and Richard LaMunyon, the Wichita, Kansas police chief who founded the Law Enforcement Torch Run.

With 96,000 law enforcement officer members from the U.S., Canada and more than 40 other nations world-wide, LETR International organizes torch runs and other fundraising events for Special Olympics programs at the local, national and international levels. LETR members also serve as coaches and mentors for local Special Olympics teams. Since 1981, LETR International has raised more than $500 million for the Special Olympics.

Congratulations to Deangelo, Austin, Latonia and Vashni on being selected as Global Messengers, and thanks to each of you for working to inspire the acceptance and inclusion of all members of society.

In Abaco, Every Child Counts

If you’ve ever encountered a young man on a three-wheeled bicycle in Green Turtle Cay, you’ve likely met my friend, Eric Sawyer. He’s funny, kind and creative. And he has Down Syndrome.

Eric 7For families in the U.S., Canada and Europe who have children with special needs, life can be challenging. Fortunately though, the majority of these families have access to the information, resources, therapies and medical care necessary to help address their children’s challenges.

But imagine having a deaf child, or one with autism or Down Syndrome or cerebral palsy, and no access to information, resources or support. It’s a situation in which many Bahamian families find themselves.

Even if they could afford specialized care and resources — and many can’t — these resources simply aren’t available outside the main cities of Nassau and Freeport. And not every family is in a position to uproot and move. Continue reading

Team Bahamas Celebrates Medal Wins

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Bahamas Honourary Consul Cedric Scott (left) with members of Team Bahamas.

We Bahamians in L.A. enjoyed another gathering with our Bahamian Special Olympians Monday night at a reception hosted by the Bahamas Honourary Consul in Los Angeles, Cedric Scott. Continue reading

Let the Games Begin!

A handful of Bahamians who live in Southern California attended the Special Olympics 2015 World Games Opening Ceremonies on Saturday night.

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Team Bahamas Enters the Stadium

We were so excited and proud to watch Team Bahamas walk the red carpet – hope they heard us cheering them on from way up in the stands! Continue reading

Calling All Bahamians (and Honourary Bahamians) in L.A.

cdn.la2015.psdops.comLess than two weeks from now, 40 or so Bahamian athletes, coaches and chaperones will arrive in Los Angeles to participate in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, taking place from July 25 – August 2.

We’re trying to get together as many Bahamians (and “honourary” Bahamians) as possible to come out and support our athletes.

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Bahamian athlete Austin Green, who will compete in bocce at the L.A. World Games.

The Bahamian team arrives in L.A. on July 21 and will be hosted by the City of Costa Mesa until July 24, when they’ll head to the athletes’ village. (Unfortunately, because of the number of World Games delegations arriving July 21, LAX is not permitting “welcoming committees” at the airport.)

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Amal Johnson will compete in the 100m, 200m and the 4x400m relay.

The City of Costa Mesa has a number of fun events planned for our Bahamian delegation, including a barbeque lunch, an Angels of Anaheim baseball game and an afternoon at the Orange County Fair, where they’ll be honoured at a special ceremony.

Deron Forbes, bahamas, special olympics, world games

Deron Forbes will swim in the 25m breast stroke, 50m breast stroke and the 4x25m freestyle relay.

Comprised of athletes from Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence, Team Bahamas will compete in aquatics and athletics (at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatic Center and Loker Stadium/Cromwell Field respectively), bocce (at L.A. Convention Center), bowling (at Lucky Strike at L.A. Live), open-water swimming (at Alamitos Beach at Long Beach) and tennis (at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center).

I don’t yet have the specific dates on which our Bahamian athletes will compete, but I’ll post the schedule here as soon as possible. All World Games sporting events are free to attend.

Krystal Clarke, bahamas, special olympics, world games

Krystal Clarke will represent Team Bahamas in the 100m walk and the softball throw.

In addition to attending the Games themselves, here are some other ways you can support our Bahamian delegation:

  • The City of Costa Mesa is looking for a few volunteers to accompany the Bahamian delegation to the O.C. Fair on Thursday, July 23 — lunch and your fair ticket will be provided. To volunteer, contact Jennifer Christ at the City of Costa Mesa at jennifer.christ@costamesaca.gov.
Serena Newton, bahamas, special olympics, world games

The youngest member of the Bahamas’ World Games Team, Abaco’s 11-year-old Serena Newton will compete in the 25m and 50m breaststroke and the 4x25m freestyle relay.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, please plan to join us in supporting and cheering on Team Bahamas. I’ll post an update as soon as I’ve got dates and times for the various events. Hope to see you at the Games!

All photographs courtesy of Special Olympics Bahamas.