NOTES FOR AN ADDRESS TO SPECIAL OLYMPICS NEW BRUNSWICK

I don’t know what it is about returning to New Brunswick.  I don’t what it is about coming home.  I don’t what it is to be part of this Special Olympic family.

 

Sometimes it is so hard to explain an affair of the heart.  If I sound personal, then that is what this speech is meant to be.

 

It is about growing up, it is about dreams, it is about a shared sadness and the most important thing it is about trying to make a little difference in people’s lives.

 

Through it all, there has been a strong ever lasting bond and that is my bond between the province of my birth and who I am.

 

I have been done many roads, but no better road than the one which leads home.

 

My travels as a reporter have taken from Bangkok to Beirut. From Tibet to Tokyo, from Shanghai to Seoul, from Baghdad to Belfast.

 

Yes there were always the big stories to cover, the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the assassination of Indria Ghandi, the Iran-Iraq war, hijackings and the troubles in Northern Ireland.

 

But what troubled me along the way were those stories about victims of war, I can never forget the faces of the children in orphanages of Cambodia or the Vietnamese families, refugees locked up in camps around Hong Kong.

 

Inside that environment were children, men and women young and old who were also trapped in another world.

 

Many were physically disabled and many more were intellectually disabled.

 

And every time I saw intellectually disabled person, I would think back to a time now almost 40 years ago when my wife and I lived in Bathurst, New Brunswick.

 

Ginette taught High School, I was the local radio announcer; a young couple full of dreams and ready to travel down any road.

 

But as we all know in this room, those roads can get lonely, those roads can get bumpy and you never what might be around the corner.

 

There is nothing more special in life than the birth of a child.  And the reason why I am in this room and so committed to Special Olympics is because of the birth of that child.

 

A child who is with me, who is with my wife and hopefully with you, in spirit.  I know that many of you have heard my story, but I don’t mind telling it again.

Timothy James Alexander Munson was born in Bathurst in 1968.

 

He didn’t quite make it to be a year old, but in his short life, he taught more about the value of life then any book could ever teach me.

 

He is the reason why my wife and I are back in New Brunswick again and we will be back again and again and one day for good.

 

What was it about that cold December morning in the late 60’s with Timmy all bundled up in his sleigh. That smile etched in my mind forever.  Whether I knew or not he was going to be my Special Olympian.

 

When I was appointed to be a Senator 3 short years ago, it didn’t take me very long to focus on how I could try to make a little difference in people’s lives.

 

When I walked into the National Special Olympics office three years ago in Toronto, I knew I had come home.

 

And when I told my story to then President Jim Jordan, I knew that there was a place for me to give back to a society which has been so good to me.

 

During the last three years, whether it has been Prince George or Bathurst and many places in between, I have helped raise money and just as important awareness of Special Olympics family.

 

And I feel so good in this family.

 

In sports and at TSN, there is always a phrase used called the TSN turning point in a game.

 

Well the TSN turning point for me was when I was at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

 

Some of you were there.

 

But here is Raymond Rockburn from Ottawa, at the age of 54, this figure skater is no kid.

 

With his grey hair, he stands out in this crowd,

 

What really stands out his humour.  Not only does Raymond have an intellectual disability, he is hearing impaired.

 

A mother of one the other figure skaters approaches him but his hearing aid is turned off.

 

She is worried about Raymond not paying enough attention to the competition.

But when he flicks the switch on, he smiles as only Raymond smile and says….. “ every athlete needs a little down time ‘’.   His only worry is that he wasn’t exactly fond of Japanese food and that might have lost a little weight. He laughs that his pants might fall down during the competition.

 

By the way Raymond won Gold for Canada.

 

But you know it is not all about winning. Just being is this room is enough for me and I am sure for you.

 

What has struck me (Madame President) is the work of the coaches, the dedication of the volunteers, and the love of the families.  You are the really winners in this room.  I am thinking of your Special Olympic Team preparing for the big games in

Bathurst.

 

This is not about sacrifice, this is not about what’s in it for me, this is about being brave in the attempt.

 

And when our lives  comes full circle in Bathurst this winter at the games my wife and I hope to be brave in the attempt  in witnessing life as it really matters.

 

It is one thing to loved but with that love comes Special Olympian Hugs and at the end of the day.  There is nothing, nothing better than to be hugged by a Special Olympian.

 

Thank You.