Shrewsbury Special Olympic basketball team begins journey to Abu Dhabi for World Games
By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – In the wee hours of March 6, 10 players and three coaches from the Shrewsbury Special Olympic Basketball team departed from Shrewsbury Town Hall on a three day journey to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Angela Snell, director of public facilities, Selectman John Lebeaux and SELCO General Manager Michael Hale were among the dozen or so that came to send the team off. Many came with homemade posters to show their support.
“I’m delighted to be here on behalf of the Board of Selectmen from the town of Shrewsbury. This is so cool. We are so proud of you and everything you’ve done. I don’t know if anyone has checked the weather forecast but I think it’s a lot warmer in Abu Dhabi than in Shrewsbury right now,” Lebeaux said in remarks to the team. “You guys are already champions; whatever you do over there is just gravy. You’ve made us terribly proud. We wish you a fabulous trip, enjoy every minute of it.”
“It’s been such a long journey and finally it’s here. I’m so proud of them and of their coaches’ dedication,” said parent and longtime Special Olympic volunteer Virginia Davidson.
Davidson and a group of parents, relatives and other supporters will travel to Abu Dhabi on Mon. March 11.
“It’s been 16 months of training for our athletes. I’m very happy with their performance and everyone has done so well. I just want to see them have a good time at this special event – the World Games,” shared Coach Bill O’Brien.
The first leg of their 21 day adventure is to New Jersey where they will meet with 216 U.S. athletes who will compete in 18 sports, from 45 states before traveling on to the largest humanitarian sports event in 2019.
The team will arrive in Abu Dhabi on Friday, March 8 and stay in “Host Town” in Dubai where the team will acclimate to the culture, the food and adjust to the time difference.
Opening Ceremony takes place on Thursday, March 14 and the games will be televised on ESPN. Games conclude on Thursday, March 21 and the team returns to Shrewsbury on March 23.