August 23, 2012

Yuma’s Olympians

Story by Lance Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Desert Warrior Staff
Photos by Lance Cpl. Bill Waterstreet
Connor Smith, a Special Olympics athlete from Yuma, Ariz., practices swimming at Marcus Pool in Yuma, Aug. 4. Smith and the other athletes from Yuma practice every week for months before the competitions.

The Olympians on NBC are not the only competitors of their type. For the past 28 years, Yuma, Ariz., has been host to some amazing athletes, the athletes of the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics is an organization that, from its inception, has sought to provide people with special needs a better quality of life. The goal of the Special Olympics is to help individuals with intellectual disabilities to be healthy, productive and respected members of society through year-round sports training, competitions, and support programs.

“We want to empower everyone with an intellectual disability,” said Lisa Ball, the river area director for Special Olympics Arizona and a native of Yuma. “We want to show them they can do it, that they don’t have to be stuck inside, that they can get out there.”

The organization focuses on providing opportunities that normally wouldn’t be present for disabled people.


Xzavier Frost, a Special Olympics athlete and a resident of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., practices swimming at the station housing pool, Aug. 13. Frost and the other athletes from Yuma practice every week for months before the competitions.

“(Xzavier) wouldn’t have been able to participate in sports without this program,” said Bianca Frost of her son Xzavier, who is an athlete and a resident of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. “It’s great for our family. Our son doesn’t feel like he has to try too hard to be like everyone else. He is very accepted.”

“We give them a place to go where they feel comfortable, where no one is going to judge them,” added Ball. “This builds the opportunity to bring friends and family together.”


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