Many times we are in the company
of great and inspiring men and women, and yet we do not know it.
We look at these people everyday. They are all around us, but we
do not see them for what they are. While they accomplish astounding
feats, extending the boundaries of the possible, we do not show
them the respect they merit.
How can this go on?
Inspired by such people, I will set off to walk through the Himalayas.
In walking through the world’s tallest mountains, universal
symbols of achievement, I hope to help change people's preconceptions
about the amazing people all around us. Most particularly, I want
us to see the fantastic accomplishments of Special Olympic athletes
for who they truly are.
Nain Singh, the late explorer whose steps I will recreate, was
an extraordinary walker and yet he was just an ordinary man, a
villager who braved arctic conditions to prove his uncommon valor
along the sheer mountain passes of the Himalayas. However, there
are over a million athletes around us of whom we know little or
nothing of their accomplishments.
Yang Yan is a Special Olympics China athlete who overcame unfair
treatment, adversity and discrimination. Yang Yan, as well as
all her teammates from Xicheng Special School participate in many
sports through Special Olympics.
Her favorite ones are gymnastics, basketball and swimming and
she has won gold medals at local, national and international competitions.
Recently, Yang Yan graced the cover of Seventeen magazine—asking
the youth of China to welcome difference and celebrate the giftedness
of all people. More than great athletes, they are amazing people.
My challenge and the challenge of the 1.3 million Special Olympics
athletes around the world is not centered on what we accomplish
or which mountain we climb, but on the opportunity to compete,
achieve and experience the life- changing joy of doing their best,
and how we grow as a result. By improving ourselves in this way,
we are all better equipped to contribute to our community.