New Meaning to Old Song: March 4, 2005
Mr. Speaker, my topic is : "New Meaning to an Old Song"
When I was a young man, one of my favorite songs started with the words, “You've got to accentuate the positive, Eliminate the negative, Latch on to the affirmative . . .” No I’m not going to sing it for you, because I might want to get elected again! But if I were to sing anything, it would be to sing praise for the very special athletes from Alaska who joined Special Olympic Team USA at Nagano, Japan, for the 2005 Winter Games. The Winter Special Olympics were held here in Alaska in 2001.
All of us have disabilities of one kind or another, and we all have abilities of one kind or another. In Special Olympics the focus is on ability, NOT intellectual disability. Special Olympics brings new meaning to “accentuating the positive, eliminating the negative, and latching on to the affirmative.”
Eight Special Olympics athletes, and their coaches from Alaska, traveled to Japan to join Special Olympic athletes from 86 other countries for the games. The ability of these athletes is absolutely astounding.
It’s a sobering thought that, in Nazi Germany, wonderful human beings like these were eliminated because of birth defects that led to intellectual disability or, to use an older term, “mental retardation.” Yes, the world IS getting better, and Special Olympics is a part of how things are getting better.
It was truly a positive life changing event for everyone who participated in the games, and for everyone who saw these Special Olympic athletes in action - including the four of us from the legislature who represented the support of Alaska for Special Olympics: the representative from District 8 in Fairbanks, and myself, and two members of the other body from Kodiak and Bethel.
Mr. Speaker, if I may, I’d like to read the names of the Special Olympic athletes from Alaska, and their coaches. Richard Champion, Seward, Cross-Country Skiing; Desire Kelso, Eagle River, Snowshoeing; Amy Murrills, Fairbanks, Snowboarding; Stephanie Palinski, Anchorage, Anchorage; Joseph Pratt, Wasilla, Snowboarding
Amy Stevens, Fairbanks, Alpine Skiing; Shannon Sullivan, Anchorage, Snowboarding
Alyssa Tucker: Anchorage, Figure Skating; Coach: Dean Davidson, Eagle River; Coach: Elke Gustafson Executive Director Special Olympics Alaska: Jim Balamaci,
“Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative” – that’s Special Olympics, and I’m in favor of it!