In Ifrane from September 25-29, 2013 Peace Corps had the opportunity to participate in the Moroccan Special Olympics. The Games were held at Al Akhawayn University. Thirty Peace Corps Volunteers were invited to join with other volunteers to assist in the Olympics. The Games featured over 1000 athletes with special needs. The athletes ages ranged from preteen through adults. Beginning with the opening ceremonies it was apparent the Games were truly a special occasion for everyone. As the crowds loudly applauded every group marching into the stadium it set the tone that this was an experience that will always be remembered. Peace Corps Volunteers assisted coordinators to successfully conduct each event. Competitions were held in track/field, soccer, swimming, equestrian, weight lifting, basketball, cycling, ping pong, and tennis. Watching the athletes compete was an enriching experience. They really put their hearts into it. When the athletes received their medals there was pure joy in their faces. PCVS lived with the athletes and other volunteers in different Olympic Villages. For the PCVS this allowed new friendships to be made and the chance for the athletes to interact with Americans. At the conclusion of the Games there were many tears, pictures, laughs, and hugs. In Ifrane for three days in September the true spirit of the Olympic movement was achieved.
By Ron Blahusch