Special Olympians sought after storm

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 28, 2005

HAMMOND — More than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes, in Louisiana alone, reside in the areas affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Special Olympics Louisiana would like to find these displaced athletes to determine their location and needs.

While the safety, shelter, and basic necessities for all those affected is everyone’s first concern, often people with intellectual disabilities are the most vulnerable in a time of crisis.

“We, along with everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi, and other areas affected by the storm, were deeply impacted by the tragedy. Providing our athletes and their families with the positive environment and support system of Special Olympics will certainly help them regain stability,” said Emmanuel Bourgeois, president and CEO of Special Olympics Louisiana.

Special Olympics athletes or their families can contact Special Olympics Louisiana at 1-800-345-6644 or can send an e-mail via their Web site, www.laso.org.

Special Olympics Louisiana relies solely on funding support from private sources such as individuals, corporations, and foundations.

“Our efforts to provide sports training and competition to people with intellectual disabilities have virtually stopped. However, we do intend to return to normalcy as quickly as possible,” said Bourgeois.

The Special Olympics sports training program helps in building athletes’ lives and giving them a sense of belonging in their communities. To continue sports training programs throughout the state, Special Olympics Louisiana must raise funds. If you can help, please contact the state headquarters at 1-800-345-6644.

“We appreciate the calls expressing concern and support for our athletes, their family members, and our volunteers. As we acknowledge the disaster around us, please help us to look forward and to help our athletes continue on their path to greatness,” said Bourgeois.