Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dalai Lama to return for Special Olympics

Informational night, talks and films slated over next few nights

Express Staff Writer

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will make an appearance at the 2009 World Winter Games in February, in Boise and Sun Valley.

People want to know: What is going on with the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games, to be held in Idaho, Feb. 6-13? To answer some of the queries, an educational and entertaining evening for Special Olympics volunteers and prospective volunteers will take place from 6-8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Hailey Community Campus in Hailey.

The organizers, who are aware of the vice presidential debate airing that night, will ensure that the keynote speaker and other vital informational aspects are completed early so people can leave in time.

"We'll keep it concise for the first 45 minutes and then have tables with information for people who want to stay," World Winter Games Education Director Mary Gervase said. "This evening is a free celebration leading up to the 2009 World Winter Games."

Troy McClain, a motivational speaker and member of the 2009 Winter Games board of directors, will deliver a keynote speech. McClain is also the brother of a Special Olympian. As well, there will be demonstrations, a screening of the film "World of Differences" and a visit with local director Mat Gerschater.

Also this week it was announced that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has accepted a formal invitation to attend certain events associated with the 2009 World Winter Games. Details are still being worked out between the organizers and the Dalai Lama's people in Dharmsala, India, where he lives. Plans do include a visit to Sun Valley where he will visit personally with the athletes at the Wood River Community YMCA, which will be known as Olympic Town.

"He wants to honor the athletes and their families," said Pirie Grossman co-founder of the 2009 World Winter Games.


Also taking place this weekend in Sun Valley is the 2008 Idaho Council for Exceptional Children Conference, from Wednesday, Oct. 1 through Friday, Oct. 3.

The annual conference attended by educators, parents, interested public, filmgoers and motivational speakers is for anyone interested in how we can inspire and challenge our youth to be the most they can be. The theme this year is "Going for the Gold," in honor of the upcoming World Winter Games.

Additionally, award-winning filmmakers and internationally sought-after speakers will be in attendance. Grossman will be the keynote speaker at lunch in the Limelight Room on Friday, Oct. 3.

Tonight from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House, "The Music Within" will be screened as part of the conference, followed by a Q & A with Richard Pimentel, who along with severely disabled fellow student Art Honneyman is the subject of the movie. He will be the keynote speaker next morning at the conference, at 9 a.m. The movie documents his journey from youth to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The film will screen Thursday, Oct. 2, at 1:30 p.m., and Friday, Oct. 3, at 10:30 a.m., at the Sun Valley Opera House. The public is encouraged to attend and a suggested $10 donation at the door supports Special Olympics and the World Winter Games.

On Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Sun Valley Opera House, the premier of the movie "Including Samuel" will take place. Sponsored by the 2009 World Winter Games, the film was made by Dan Habib about the inclusion of people with disabilities such as his son Samuel, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Shot and produced over four years, Habib's award-winning documentary film chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives. The film also features four other families with varied inclusion experiences, plus interviews with dozens of teachers, young people, parents and disability rights experts.

For more information on any of these events, contact Mary Gervase at 788-9729.

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