On April 1st, 2017, a tribute was held at the Imam Sadr Foundation’s cultural complex to celebrate the champions of the Special Olympics held in Austria: Sawsan Bzai, Ahmad Hayek, Muhammad Zayyat and Qasem Saad, who had returned from the Winter Games with 6 silver and bronze medals, not to mention the reward of the experience itself.
The ceremony was attended by a delegation from the Lebanese National Paralympic Committee, Imam Sadr Foundation administration, staff, faculty and students, parents and members of the press. Educator Katia Srour gave the welcoming address, followed by a few verses from the Holy Quran, read by student Hasan Bitar. Coach Imane Sabbagh gave an overview of the Special Olympics World Winter and Summer Games, explaining the trajectory of candidacy and trainings pre-travel. She also illuminated the highlights of her experience in Austria which were documented and presented in a video prepared by the Communication Division for the occasion.
Vice President of the National Paralympic Committee Mrs. Hala Husseini underlined that partnership with organizations and associations catering to persons with special needs plays a key part in leading them to a safe society through sports. The sports program, she said, is addressed to these very persons, their environment and society – nations being built at the hands of everyone without discrimination. Husseini also congratulated all the organizations that participated in the Games, and the supporting directors and officials. President of the Lebanese Ski Federation Mr. Charbel Salameh in turn applauded the experience. “It was one of the best experiences; they have taught me perseverance and determination,” he commented. He praised the sportsmanship of the participants and the unique dedication of Coach Imane Sabbagh. He called on all officials to devote attention to the Special Olympics and persons with special needs. Mrs. Batoul Muhsen, mother of Qasem Saad, spoke on behalf of the mothers of the participants. She thanked those who developed and followed up on the initiative. She said that the competition and her son’s participation transformed the atmosphere at her home, and became a clear turning-point in her son’s perspective on life and people’s perception of him.
Imam Sadr Foundation General Manager Mr. Nijad Charafeddine started from the holy verse: “Who hath created, and further, given order and proportion” which teaches us that all creations have potential despite their difference, a difference that allows them to complete each other and thus reinforces their perfection. After thanking all participants and organizers, he noted the criticality of unlocking all talent and energies which no human being ever lacks, especially youth and children.
The event culminated in an athletic performance by the special education students. Prizes were then awarded to the winning Olympians.
A thousand congratulations to the winners, their families, coaches, administrators and officers. May we meet again in upcoming championships!