What They’re Saying at Summer Games – Day 1

Here is a collection of thoughts and experiences from athletes, coaches, volunteers, law enforcement and attendees on Day 1 of Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games:

Tara Hampton

Tara Hampton, basketball athlete from Simi Valley

“This is our opportunity to feel like we don’t have a disability. [Special Olympics] is my chance where I can play a sport.”

-Tara Hampton, basketball athlete from Simi Valley

“It’s not the competition – it’s that they’re attempting, they’re trying. I like letting new athletes experience coming to this event. It’s feel-good, everyone is just so supportive and so accepting.”

-Craig Cole, swim coach from La Mirada

”Carlos has progressed in school a lot since his involvement with Special Olympics.  He is able to focus on something he loves, set goals and learn new things.”

-Estafania Revolorio, parent of 12-year-old Carlos who’s competing in four track and field events

“He’s a very sociable person, but he tends to gravitate more toward adults and non-special needs people. Now since Special Olympics, he is more inclined to hang out with his peers. It makes a difference.”

-Tim and Leanna Long, parents of athlete Brian Long who plays basketball for the Vista Falcons

“I felt compelled to support these amazing motivated athletes and their families.  Hopefully I will be invited back next year.”

-Officer Alex Rojas of the Los Angeles Police Department, Central Traffic Division

“I have never been so close to something like that, it is so great to experience it first-hand.”

-First-year volunteer Matthew Bloomberg, a 22-year-old Air Force enlister based at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the Central Coast, on the Opening Ceremonies

“How do you describe love? These athletes are the epitome of the right attitude of what sports are all about. You honor these athletes by working these meets. It’s an honor for me to do this. I can’t really express the emotion I feel. It’s just something I have to do. They work so hard to get where they are. Their demeanor, their attitude, their approach to life is really an example of what a lot of people need to learn. How can you feel anything but just awe? So why do I do this? Because they deserve to have the best possible people that could aid their heroics.”

-Andrew Bard, a track and field official since 1991

“Seeing the athletes’ faces, whether competing or supporting others, they are the happiest people on Earth.”

-Paul and Zack Stumpe, father and son from Chino Hills who are third-year volunteers

“The people are wonderful – parents, athletes, families and all the volunteers.  The smiles on everyone’s faces and the energy around here is wonderful.”

-Virginia Depaola, president of the Wells Fargo Orange County Volunteers Chapter

“[The athletes] have a good time together and you get a lot of love and appreciation and they’re just thankful for everything.”

-Jean Walker of San Gabriel Valley on why she coaches for Special Olympics

“Special Olympics has given (my son) Christopher freedom – he feels comfortable around people. We’ve met lots of nice welcoming people and love that everyone cheers for everyone.”

-Susan Wright of Los Osos, parent of Special Olympics athlete Christopher and first-year coach Garrett

Jason Dougall

Jason Dougall from South Bay, gold medalist in the 200 meters run

“Excellent fun. [I was inspired by] the support and encouragement everybody gave me.”

-Gold medalist Jason Dougall, a track athlete who won the 200 meters for the South Bay

“We have a special place in our hearts for these athletes and are teaching our children to support the efforts of our Special Olympians.”

-Carolina Duenas of Burbank, who attended as a fan with 10-year-old daughter Leila and 6-year-old son Charlie

“This is an incredibly rewarding experience that reminds me why I wanted to be a doctor. The athletes are here purely for the competition, to fulfill their dreams.  They enjoy themselves and their fellow athletes’ efforts.”

-Dr. Calvin Okey, a second-year volunteer from Orange County

“The joy they have for the sport, it’s so pure. The sportsmanship they exude when they compete, it’s not about blowing anybody out of the water or self-promotion. It’s about doing it together and having fun with your friends, and going out and being active.”

-Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams All-Pro punter

Leave a Reply

Translate »
%d bloggers like this: