06.24.11Final Team Training

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It is the last day to finalize training detail and the first day the team meets with our Leader Alexandra who will be responsible for providing the cycling and softball spectator services and guiding a team of strangers who have volunteered to take time out of their busy lives to assist in providing whatever is needed to ensure that our spectators comprised mainly of family members and friends who have come to support their Special Olympics athletes are welcomed and taken care of.

Alexandra is very thorough, detail orientated and committed to her team of volunteers. Having spoken to her briefly on the phone, she expressed her gratitude and joy so effusively that I was left feeling so valued and honoured to be a volunteer.  I was not alone in that experience. Other team members told me that they also felt very welcomed and were eager to learn how they could be of service.  Being a team leader meant I had the opportunity to develop leadership skills on a whole different level.

Our venue includes two sports: cycling and softball, both very popular and outdoor sports…which mean lots of sunscreen and mandatory hats!  I am looking forward to bonding with my team and it is not going to be a difficult thing to do, because they are all the perfect team with the willingness to take on our adventure of volunteerism.

06.24.11World Special Olympics Athens Greece 2011

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An evening filled with a Spectacular display of courage, determination, joy and inspiring messages from the stars of the event, the athletes. The scene set in the Kalimarmaron stadium unravelled the story of Odysseus in a magical interpretation to represent the voyage that we all take in discovering our strengths and learning from our weaknesses. Vanessa Williams, Maria Menounos and Stevie Wonder contributed their presence to this International event and delighted people with their warmth and welcoming hearts. As the athletes and their countries were announced and they made their way along the stage, they danced, waved and proudly waved flags, held symbols from their countries and absolutely won the crowd over with their winning smiles and sheer joy. It was contagious and as I watched parents yell, blow horns, flash their lights on hats and glasses, I was particularly moved by a mother from Costa Rica who had tears streaming down her face as she shouted out her love and pride to her 14 year old son…there was no way that I could stand there and not be moved to tears watching this mother. Later she found me, hugged me and told me that when she saw her son he cried from joy too and then showed me the photo of her son hugging her tight… so I hugged her tight back too and she can never know how in that moment I was present to hugging my 14 year old son and thinking how proud I am of him…

06.24.11World Special Olympics Athens Greece 2011

by Eleni : Special Olympics World Games Athens 2011 : 1 Comment

dsc038881Eimai Mesa…I’m In!  Athens hosts the World Special Olympics 2011
Regardless of the harsh economic climate that clouds Athen’s beautiful landscape, Apollon the mascot of the World Special Olympics welcomes Athletes, Families, Coaches, and Spectators from all over the world casting rays of inspiration as Athens prepares to host  Approx. 7500 Athletes from 183 countries that will compete in a variety of events in 30 venues until July 4th.

06.23.11Behind the scenes…Special Olympics Ceremony

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The Special Olympics Volunteers meet their team members that include all ages and backgrounds to contribute to the staging of an unforgettable Opening ceremony to honour Special Olympics Athletes from around the world. Without the Volunteers and their support, it would not be possible to deliver the Special Olympics messages that spread awareness about people with intellectual disabilities and acknowledge the contribution they are to our world.

03.18.11Vancouver…Cosmopolitan city with Natural Gifts

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Spring time in VancouverBeautiful Vancouver…cosmopolitan natural beauty nestled in the province of British Columbia, Canada.

World class in spirit, many people journey to this city to experience the essence of  one of   the best cities in the world to live ranking, and the freshness of the  west coast lifestyle.   As fresh  as the rich Aboriginal culture and traditions that are rooted in every apspect of this land’s tapestry, that whisper ancient cultural ways in the coastal waters and sing their stories proudly  through the myriad of forests and islands dotted around the coast.   Spiritual and cleansing, Vancouver is the gateway to a holiday filled with adventure and awe.  Every kind of excursion starts with the  generous and welcoming hospitality of the Canadian people.  People who come from around the world and become Canadian form this  rich mosaic of Vancouver’s multicultural community.  They all share the pride, and love they have for our province and this is evident in how they embrace and express  their diversity within Vancouver.  My mother emigrated to Vancouver from a small village in Greece in the 1950’s as well as manyof my friend’s parents.  Our parents participated in the creation of a community started by the first Greek pioneers to come from Greece and openly sang the praises of a province that helped them to prosper and provide a life for themselves and their families.   This is one of the same stories that begins all the other present day cultures that built our city.  Diversity and inclusion have not always been easy but this variety of cultural pioneers built the “themelia” (Greek for  foundation…) of Vancouver.  When you visit our  city, you visit the richness of human spirit manifested in every part of the city, even the downtown Eastside where life flows in a different rythym…. a rythym that is recognizable in every country and city.  Life flourishes here in a different way  and many dedicated Canadian people and organizations commit themselves  to  creating life quality and dignity for all of it’s residents…being the change they want to see.  Travel writers emphasize the exciting qualities of cities they visit…I live in Vancouver and when I travel and return I am present to the beauty and amazing life this province has bestowed upon me and my family.  I can walk by the ocean, saunter down a tranquil forest, ski in the mountains, experience cultural traditions, have coffee in a quaint tucked away coffee shop and discover something new about my city everyday…either walking distance, a skytrain stop, a ferry ride away and the adventure unfolds as little or as much of it I want to experience.  I will be posting places I love and recommend around Vancouver.  I know that you will enjoy your visit to Vancouver and as you ride the Gondola in Whistler looking out at the serene wildness of Vancouver’s mountain oasis  or stroll through a  mystical Stanley Park trail   you will understand why Eleni sent you to Vancouver…

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