SPT Executive Director Jim Hamm’s Travel Experiences as a member of Team USA at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, UAE

This trip was my fourth experience at a World Games event. Previously, I had traveled to Dublin, Ireland; Athens, Greece; and Los Angeles, CA. There was no doubt that this trip was anticipated as a physical and cultural challenge. I was truly traveling after having had a knee replacement a few months earlier into a part of the world that I only knew about through research and media outlets.

Well, I can jubilantly state that the full experience was definitely a physical challenge and the cultural experience was truly an educational experience. The local persons were tremendous hosts to all the nations (192). It was fabulous being a part of something much larger than any single person. I was filled with pride to be able to represent the USA.

On the tennis courts, we had 12 athletes competing. It is with great happiness that I can report that each athlete went home with at least one medal. The additional joy that brings to each athlete is best understood by magnifying several times the mere experience we see each year when the SPT athletes are competing and it results in earning a medal.

We had time for two side trips to do some sightseeing. First we visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is over 1.3 million square feet of marble, gold, and in-laid pearl. It is one of the largest in the world and listed as the 2nd most favorite attraction in the world.  Our second adventure was a dune-buggy ride that concluded with a ride on a camel. I must admit that both the camel and myself were pleased when the ride concluded.

The saddest part of the journey is that none of our SPT athletes or volunteers were able to make the trip to compete on such a magnificent stage. That opportunity is deserved and my hope is that the World Games in 2023 being held in Berlin, Germany will include SPT athletes representing the USA.

Great to be back home and I hope to be able to share this experience with any of you that may wish to talk about it. Enjoy the few pictures and we’ll see you on the courts!!!!!