Why more people know about the Special Olympics than the Paralympics

In September 2008, the New York Times wrote an article, “Pistorius is the World’s Fastest Paralymian.”



On September 12, 2008 at 3:08 AM, I commented about the article and the Paralympics, and the New York Times published it online. (See below)  

Throughout history, heroes have emerged from all walks of life in all shapes and sizes. There was David who fought Goliath, there was Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the many unnamed who dedicated their lives to  serving others. Heroes can be teachers, policemen, firemen, soldiers, nurses, or the Good Samaritan who happens to be in the right place at the right time.  


Regardless of their individual causes, heroes have one thing in common. They inspire us to try harder and to be better people than we would have been had they not graced our lives.


Paralympic athletes are heroes for their bravery, courage, and their ability to reach far beyond that which is expected and to excel and to inspire us to do the same.

They don’t worry about contracts, endorsements, media coverage, or becoming famous. Their number one goal is to compete for gold, whether fans and the media are there or not.


I have been privileged to interview Paralympians for various publications.

Despite my partial blindness, I made four documentaries, and my second one, Portraits of Possibility, hi-lights blind athletes who vied for gold at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Sad, I frequently meet people who still think that the Paralympics is the same as the Special Olympics! Wrong! Only elite athletes with physical disabilities can try out and qualify for the Paralympics, as opposed to the Special Olympics, which are open to all mentally challenged people. When I interviewed Sandy White, former head coach of the U.S. Blind Swim Team, he said: “The Kennedy Family started the Special Olympics. Unfortunately, not too many people know about sports events for people with physical disabilities compared to the Special Olympics. All the physically disabled athletes, amputees, people in wheelchairs, blind athletes, deaf athletes never had a founding sugar daddy like the Special Olympics did. The Special Olympics is as well known as the Hershey bar. The other disability groups never had the money to do the marketing, the publicity, and the fund raising that the Special Olympics did. People might have seen someone in a wheelchair doing a marathon or they might have heard of wheelchair basketball, but that’s it.”

  – David Block


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