Remarks at the Closing Ceremonies of the International Summer Special Olympics Games

St. Paul, MN | July 26, 1991

That feeling of togetherness -- that new awareness and compassion – can nourish the world just as the river nourishes the land.

For seven days and seven nights, 18,500 athletes, coaches, parents, and friends of the Special Olympians have been visitors here in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

No one has been seriously hurt despite the hard competition. No one has cried "foul". No one has accused the referees or judges of being unfair.

Even more unbelievable, no one has complained about the housing, the food, the transportation, the sports facilities, the entertainment, the judges or the referees. No one has cheated. No one has tested positively for drugs.

The Northern and Southern Irish have played together as one team. The Arabs and Jews have cheered one another. Whites have befriended blacks and blacks whites. The rich and the poor, the North and the South, the Communists and Capitalists, the old and the young have enjoyed one another, competed against one another, and remained friends.

That's the way the whole world should be. That's the way Special Olympics is. Let us thank God that we lucky few are here to see this miracle of Special Olympics played out before our eyes.

For such a spectacular success, no one individual can claim all the credit. but, Irwin Jacobs and his compassionate wife, Alexandra and their family must be recognized and applauded. For without them, these games would never have taken place here in these hospitable Twin Cities.

It was Jacobs who had the vision and personally guaranteed the financial resources, and it was he who assembled the brilliant team of executives and sports experts whose superb work has produced these splended games. Roy Smalley, the Executive Director, Connie Knight, the Operations Director, and Dick Weber, the Director of Marketing and Financial Development are only three of the total team; but their competence will never be forgotten.

Nor will we ever forget Andy Leonard, a refugee child from Vietnam, who weighs only 108 pounds, yet in the combined dead-lift and bench press Andy lifted 608 pounds -- more than five times his weight!

A Hong Kong athlete scored our first ten "10" in gymnastics when four Olympic judges agreed he completed the vault, perfectly.

Most appropriately, a Greek athlete, with the appropriate name, Savious, won our 13.5 miles half-marathon in one hour and 25 minutes. and, he says that if we bring the Special Olympics to Greece he will also finish the full marathon in record time!

For the first time our Special Olympic horseback riders rode their horses over jumps, and vowed that they would scale four foot hurdles at the next summer games.

Record-breaking performances like these inspired a ten-year old boy near the soft-ball fields to set up a lemonade stand. On his first day of business he sold $3.97 worth of drinks and turned all his income, in change, over to our baseball supervisor as a gift to Special Olympics. Flushed with success he opened business for a second day and earned $25. He then challenged his own father to match his achievement. Together they gave Special Olympics $50. I've got the total results right here in my hands -- $50 in bills and $3.97 in change -- all of it a gift from the Debbosey family. Mark and his dad left for the weekend, but his mother, Sandy, is here, so let's give that mother of a true and generous entrepreneur our unanimous applause.

Special Olympics athletes are astounding the world with their athletic abilities and records. But they are uniting the world; too, I am told they have even united Minneapolis and St. Paul!!!

The Mississippi River normally divides the Twin Cities. Theirs has been a friendly rivalry for many, many years, but this week, Special Olympics has brought these two fine cities together. Their mayors and public officials; their police and medical workers; their bankers, industrialists, journalists; their rich and their poor; their athletes and families, -- all have worked together.

That feeling of togetherness -- that new awareness and compassion – can nourish the world just as the river nourishes the land.

Twenty-five years ago not even my inspired and courageous wife, Eunice, anticipated this joyous and successful week. Nor did her father, or her mother, who is now 101 years old. Nor did her valiant brothers, -- Joe and Jack, and Bobby. Nor did her admiring husband. But I have lived to see the triumph. Let's pray that all of us in the years ahead will have many occasions to thank god for blessing us with the mentally handicapped. they have taught us the wonders we can achieve if only we work together for the betterment of all human kind.

Now, it is my duty as chairman of Special Olympics International to declare these Eighth International Summer Special Olympics Games closed.