NOTES FOR REMARKS BY SENATOR JIM MUNSON FOR THE 2007 SPECIAL OLYMPICS BATHURST WINTER GAMES

Your Worship, Lieutenant Governor Chiasson, Member of Parliament Yves Godin, Chief David Peter Paul, members of the New Brunswick Legislature, ladies and gentleman, Special Olympians from across Atlantic Canada and our very special guests from Maine, bienvenu à Bathurst…. Welcome to the North Shore of New Brunswick.

 

Special Olympians, this night is about you. The next three days are about you, these Winter Games are about you.

 

Why? Because you, all of you, are very special.

 

This night is about your family. The next three days are about your families. These Winter Games wouldn’t happen without your families.

 

Why? Because they are very special.

 

This night is about your coaches. The next three days are about your coaches.

 

Why? Because they care about Special Olympians.

 

This night is also about every volunteer in this arena.

The next three days are about the volunteers.

Why?  Because look around you. These volunteers believe in the Special Olympic community and that community is you.

 

The community hosting you is Bathurst and by the time you leave, you will understand there is no shore like the north shore, that’s for sure.

 

But the Special Olympians in this arena know there is a bigger community. In many ways, it is more like a family, an extended family that stretches across the country and around the world.

 

Think about it for a moment. There are 31 thousand Special Olympians in Canada. There are 2.25 million in more than 160 countries around the world.

 

There are 900 Special Olympians in New Brunswick.

 

And what are these Special Olympians doing?  They are winning. Winning at life.

 

Two years ago, I was at the World Winter Games in Nagano Japan. Canada was there. Special Olympians from New Brunswick and the rest of Atlantic Canada were there.

 

I saw a lot of winners and I saw a lot of brave people.

It starts with the athletes of course. Their dedication to their sport and their hard work. Their athleticism and will to win. Their sense of team and dedication to their fellow athletes. The support that you felt all around was amazing.

 

Personally, I was never hugged so much in my life.  The smiles and hugs after every performance affirmed what each athlete knew…. That they had indeed reached the heights of greatness and his or her fellow teammates were there to make it even better.

 

And that’s what will happen this weekend in Bathurst.

 

Whether you are playing floor hockey, curling, speed skating, figure skating, snowshoeing or cross country skiing.

 

It has been said that “it is a rough road that leads to greatness.” That is something Special Olympians know a lot about. Our world is not perfect. There is discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. Yet by your example, Special Olympians show each other, their families, their communities and the world  to what great heights a rough road can lead.

 

The athlete’s oath says it all. “Let me win, but if I cannot win. Let me be brave in the attempt.”

 

The Special Olympics movement is almost 40 years old.

A dream which became a reality was first shared with Eunice Kennedy Shriver of the Kennedy clan and Canada’s own Frank Hayden.

 

Think about how we considered and referred to people with intellectual disabilities 40 years ago and how we consider and refer to such people today.

 

We know now that everyone has a place in our society and that everyone should have the same opportunities to succeed and lead happy lives. No one should be shut away.

 

Special Olympians make us realize what’s really important.  It is a movement that has changed the world.

 

Special Olympians with their athleticism, their bravery and their smiles have managed to change the world.

 

Special Olympians have changed me.

 

But before I close with a personal story, I want to say to you, Gordon Pite and your wife.

 

Thank you for being so brave.  Thank you for being so kind.

 

Thank you for being responsible for making this event happen.

 

You deserve a standing ovation and so much more.

 

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

 

There is nothing more special than the birth of a child.  Our son, Timothy James Alexander Munson was born in this city in June of 1968.

 

That was a month before the Special Olympics had its first games on July 20, 1968. It was held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Timmy was a Down Syndrome boy.

 

He passed away at nine months of pneumonia.

 

He was going to be my Special Olympian.

 

He is still in our hearts, our Special Olympian.

 

We loved him, we love children and we love Special

Olympians.

 

Tonight you are all Timmys to me.  Have fun tonight, and be brave in your attempts all weekend.

 

Merci, et maintenant,  mon épouse, Ginette Hebert Munson.