Dorothy Kavanagh has been involved with the Special Olympics for the last 40 years, since it began in Ireland.
July 2018 marks the 40th Anniversary of Special Olympics Ireland and it is also the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics International which was established in 1968 when the first competition was held in Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Dorothy first got involved as a supporter in Special Olympics through the Daughters of Charity, St. Vincent’s, Lisnagry where she was training as a nurse, then she became a volunteer and eventually a coach.
“Our Special Olympics athletes develop so many skills through their chosen sport. However it is also true that coaches, volunteers, officials, family and friends have learned as much and more through Special Olympics. I am one of those privileged people,” said Dorothy.
By supporting and helping her at the games Dorothy said her family have always been involved in Special Olympics, and have become better people because of their involvement.
“I have learned humility, to be respectful, to be patient, how to have the craic and the potential that is within all of us. I have learned all this not through the sports Special Olympics offers or through the other coaches or volunteers, but through a very unique group, the Special Olympics Athletes.
“Through Special Olympics my four girls have developed a very positive attitude to people with an intellectual disability and realise the potential and skill within our athletes. They know a lot of our athletes in Lisnagry and have a very good relationship with them,” added Dorothy.
Dorothy also has a nephew who is a Special Olympics athlete and has seen him blossom, grow in confidence, experience travel and staying away from home, public speaking, being part of a team but also being his own person through Special Olympics and he has a large circle of friends.
“Special Olympics has been a great support for families and athletes, an outlet to develop all the skills needed for specific sports, but also a place to make friends and have regular social interaction.
“Athletes learn how to enjoy a win and be graceful and respectful in defeat. Special Olympics teaches new skills but also challenges both athletes and families to strive for more,” said Dorothy.