Special Olympics athletes shared the gold Saturday at Charlotte Amalie High School, St. Thomas, as each participant earned a medal. A modest crowd of volunteers and parents cheered the Olympians who come together once a year in hopes of attending the World Games.
The World Games are held every two years, rotating between summer and winter. The athletes who represent the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in Ireland in summer 2003, and look forward to this June when they will join fellow Olympians in Greece. Coaches Edwin Forbes, Jana Lee, Robert Massey, Carol Mestemaker, and Kent Moorehead will lead the athletes in bowling, aquatics, power lifting, track and field, and tennis, respectively.
Event organizer Janice Lee has worked with the program since 1977. Lee spent 31 years as a physical education teacher. She now works full time with the Special Olympics team in St. Thomas. Lee is optimistic that government funding and community support will continue to allow the organization to grow so that more athletes can participate in events like the World Games. The government provides the organization with $35,000 each year, while the athletes and volunteers fundraise.
The Special Olympics organization welcomes all athletes over the age of four. Volunteer Mary Jane Green said she remembers a man who participated until he was 83. Athlete William Green has competed for over 20 years and plans to attend the World Games in Greece. Another veteran Olympian, Antonio Edwards, shared hugs and stories as he proudly displayed his gold and silver medals.
“You can’t give love or joy without getting it back,” Lee said after receiving her hug. “Today was a great day for the athletes. We have great volunteers.”
The Community Special Olympics are held first on St. Croix then St. Thomas every March. State games are held in May, although they will be postponed this year due to the World Games. Contact Janice Lee at 772-2277 to volunteer.