Two days from the start of the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, an opportunity more than 4,000 athletes from around the country will get to experience, it’s only fitting to spotlight one of the elder statesmen who knows just how fleeting moments in life can be.
Meet 64-year-old Paul Lapre.
As a refresher, Paul has overcome battles with alcohol and a stroke in a life he appreciates more and more after taking advantage of his second chance. But since we last caught up with the Lakewood Dirtbags softball pitcher, Paul reflected on the lessons Special Olympics Southern California has taught him away from the diamond or any other sports venue since its inception in 1968.
Whether it’s learning how to channel emotions in a positive manner or having the strength to make tough choices and turn his life around, Special Olympics has made a life-changing impact on numerous occasions.
“To me, it’s about life,” Paul said. “It teaches you about life.”
Now, he’s among the 66 Special Olympics Southern California athletes meeting in Los Angeles on Friday and gearing up for a week-long stay in Seattle. The delegation will fly out Saturday morning, with Opening Ceremonies set for Sunday at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium and competitions scheduled to start Monday.
Paul is ready to take his place in the pitcher’s circle and begin the team’s quest for the gold medal. But, personally, the idea of just stepping on the the field and knowing all eyes will be on the Dirtbags excites him and makes him proud.
“I’ve always wanted to be recognized for something,” he said. “To be recognized as a player for Special Olympics means a lot to me.”
The Dirtbags will make their USA Games debut Monday at 8 a.m. against South Dakota. Later in the day, SOSC will face Maryland at 11 a.m.
Here’s more from Paul Lapre:
Stay tuned to WeAreSOSC.org for daily updates from the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle starting July 1, including photos, stories, and more.