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.

Copyright Diego Azubel 2004. All rights reserved.
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