Everyone wins at 8th Eastern Special Olympics

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Everyone came out a winner when UNICEF and local charity organizations came together to stage the eighth Eastern Thailand Special Olympics in Pattaya.

City Councilman Rattanachai Sutidechanai opened the competition Nov. 17 at Pattaya School No. 7 with 300 disabled youths from 16 regional schools there to participate in track, football and petanque.

While everyone received a medal, the day was less about scores and winners, than giving the students a chance to get together for sports activities and exercise to allow them to build strength and confidence.

Special Olympians from around the Kingdom pose for a commemorative photo after 2 fun-filled days of competition.

The Nov. 17-18 event was sponsored by the United Nations children’s organization, along with the Pattaya Sports Club, which donated 25,000 baht; Jester’s Care For Kids, which put in 150,000 baht; the YWCA Bangkok-Pattaya Center, which contributed 15,000 baht; Mattel Bangkok Ltd., the Institute of Physical Education Chonburi Campus Stadium, and Pattaya City Hall.

The overriding factor in the event was the commitment and determination of each child to finish the race, regardless of how far they were behind the others, or if they lost to other teams during the sporting activities.

(L to R) Lewis Underwood and Bernie Tuppin from Jester’s Care for Kids donate 150,000 baht to Ratchaneewan Boonkul, director of Special Olympics Thailand.

Among the local schools and organizations participating in the competition were students from the Redemptorist School for Persons with Disabilities, Plutaluang’s Ban Khru Boonchu House, the Autistic Development Center, and Sattahip School, along with organizations in Rayong and Samut Prakan.

Excited Olympians set off on a 50-meter dash.

It’s all about trying.

Some of the faster kids bolt from the start of another 50-meter dash.

It looks like the little guy wasn’t quite ready, but he tried and completed the race like all others.

This little one shows great determination.

Pattaya Sports Club charity chairperson Noi Emmerson (left) presents 25,000 baht to Ratchaneewan Boonkul (right), director of Special Olympics Thailand.

YWCA Association Pattaya-Bangkok President Praichit Jetapai (3rd left) and members help sponsor the event with a 15,000 baht check.