‘Special Olympics a catalyst for change’

The next Special Olympics for children with mental disabilities is to be held in Athens in 2011, but preparations are already under way. A new dimension to the organization, which will allow the message to be spread more widely, is the decision by the Greek Organizing Committee to bestow the title of goodwill ambassador on 11 representatives of the media who will brief the public on television, radio and in the newspapers. The ceremony will be held during the signing of the official memorandum on February 14, 2008, at the Athens Concert Hall. The ambassadors will be given their credentials by President Karolos Papoulias. An address will be given by Special Olympics International President Dr Timothy Shriver, son of the founder of the event, Eunice Kennedy-Shriver. Timothy Shriver will sign the memorandum, as well as Culture Minister Michalis Liapis and President of the Special Olympics Organizing Committee Gianna Despotopoulou. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will also make a statement. The date will mark the 21st anniversary of the Special Olympics in Greece. Shriver says that the Games benefit the special athletes by giving them an opportunity «to have fun and develop physical fitness, find acceptance, become confident and aspire to greatness in other aspects of their lives.» «As families cheer their loved ones, they experience more pride and support,» he said, adding that the same applied to the volunteers, coaches and donors. «Their actions change their lives and the lives of others in extraordinary ways… the Special Olympics is a catalyst in creating change and a more accepting, compassionate world.»