Charlestown-Nevis-The Nevisian contingent of the St. Kitts –Nevis team that represented the federation at the recently concluded Special Olympics World games, held in Abu Dhabi, were celebrated in a huge way, on Tuesday 26th March.
The athletes who returned home on Saturday 23rd and Monday 25th March respectively, were honoured in a huge motorcade, which commenced at the Cicely Browne Integrated school (their alma mater) and journeyed through Prospect; Cherry Garden; Main Street, Charlestown; Pinneys; Craddock Road, back through Charlestown and then back to the school.
At the school, an impressive ceremony was held, which was ably chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Kevin Barrett.
He warmly welcomed the distinguished officials and others present and congratulated the athletes on their tremendous achievements.
Also addressing the gathering, was Minister of Education, Hon. Troy Liburd, who congratulated the athletes and stated that he got regular updates as regards their achievements, via Facebook. He stated that they have set the example for others to follow.
Minister of Sports, Hon. Eric Evelyn, in his remarks, recalled that only a few months ago, the lunch room at the school was commissioned and he had stated then, that it could be used as a multipurpose facility and noted how beautifully decked out it was, in hosting the ceremony.
He noted that the achievements of the athletes speak volumes, as a small country like St. Kitts and Nevis, stood tall among much larger islands and countries.
He stated that the athletes were not limited by their disabilities and would have achieved what many other persons would never achieve in their lifetime.
He admonished parents who have children with disabilities, to never cast them aside but to show them love at all times.
He had special words of commendations for Mrs. Violet Clarke, Mrs. Jennifer Liburd and the entire staff at the institution, for their hard work.
Deputy Premier, Hon. Alexis Jeffers, apologized for the absence of Premier Brantley, who was at another engagement, but who later made time to pass by and personally congratulate the athletes.
He recalled that in the early years, persons with disabilities were shunned by the society but now with the care and attention that they are receiving, they are achieving much.
He opined that the journey to Abu Dhabi must have involved a number of hurdles and difficulties but the persons who made it happen, persevered and are now reaping the fruits of their labour.
He expressed the hope that an even bigger contingent of team members and supporters would be able to attend the next games, set for Germany, once the money is available.
Deputy Governor General, Her honour, Mrs. Hyleta Liburd, was obviously elated and stated that she was really happy that she has no cameras in her house, ‘because when I heard that Liddie had earned a gold medal, I did not behave nicely…’
She spoke of her knowledge of the athletes and where they came from, to what they have become, because of her intonate involvement with the school as a former Principal Education officer.
She also took time out to salute those athletes who tried out for the team but did not quite make it and also saluted the coaches and the trainers for a job well done.
Mrs. Judy Rawlins, assistant head of delegation, gave a comprehensive overview of the journey to Abu Dhabi and thanked the Nevis Island Administration and more especially, Minister Evelyn and his Ministry for the overwhelming assistance received in making the trip possible.
It was pointed out that the St. Kitts –Nevis team competed against over 7,000 athletes, from over 200 other countries and secured 8 gold medals, with Nevisian athletes securing four of those.
She stated that all of the Nevisian athletes earned significant medals.
At the end of the ceremony, everyone present shared in the delicious treats provided by Ms. Valtina Stapleton and her team, as they mingled with the athletes and listened to their experiences.