Special Olympics


Chloe Shepherd, Staff Writer

Jim Shepherd, my father, has been working with people with disabilities as a behavior specialist since 1988. Along with his day job, he also volunteers as a coach for Special Olympics. He coached Jackson County’s Special Olympic softball team, and he will be coaching their basketball team as well.

Through his several years of working and volunteering with people with disabilities, he has realized the enthusiasm a lot of people have for sports. Even though their enthusiasm is strong, many people with special needs won’t have an opportunity to participate in sports. Special Olympics gives them that opportunity.

“People with disabilities enjoy participating in sports just as much as other people,” Jim explains. “People with disabilities don’t always have opportunities to participate, but Special Olympics gives them that option.”

Even in the scorching heat of the summer, the Jackson County softball team was practicing. Special Olympics gives people with disabilities the chance to meet new people and socialize. Shepherd stressed the importance of the socializing connected to Special Olympics. He explained that not every person with a disability gets the opportunity to be a part of a group, and sometimes people with disabilities have a hard time socializing. Through practices and games, it requires them to socialize and make friends which is really great.

The athletes aren’t the only ones that benefit from Special Olympics. Volunteers benefit greatly from their time spent coaching Special Olympics.

“Volunteers benefit from seeing and helping people reach their potential,” Shepherd states. Seeing people that might never have had the opportunity to play sports win a tournament or gold medal is inspiring, and it will make the volunteers strive to reach their potential as well.

My father has always told people that the only difference between them and people with disabilities is a disability. People with disabilities deserve similar opportunities as others, and they deserve respect and equal treatment. To quote the Special Olympics motto, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in my attempt.” Special Olympics gives people with disabilities a fair, equal opportunity to participate in something they might never have gotten to in the past, and it allows people to see that people with disabilities are just as capable as others.