Two Kāpiti-based athletes, Cole Bailey and Louis Edwards, are currently competing at to the 2023 Special Olympics World Summer Games taking place in Berlin from the 17th – 25th of June.
The two athletes qualified for the New Zealand football team at the National Summer Games in December 2022. Their $36,000 fundraising budget to cover all travel and accommodation costs was achieved by generous local donations, fundraisers, and a $10,000 grant from Nikau Foundation’s Kāpiti Disability Support Fund.
On the last Tuesday in May, family, friends and a group of excited Special Olympics athletes turned out to the Paraparaumu College Gym in rallying support for two new local heroes, Cole Bailey and Louis Edwards.
Just six months prior, the two young men had qualified for the World Games in Berlin after competing at the New Zealand National Games in Hamilton, and this evening marked their final practice before heading away as part of the 40-strong New Zealand athlete contingent.“ Knowing what Cole and Louis have achieved is really exciting to other athletes,” says Special Olympics Kāpiti Chair, Anne Cheetham, “It provides assurance that these things are possible, no matter your circumstances in life.”
The Special Olympics World Games, which will welcome over 7000 athletes from 170 countries from the 17th – 25th of June, not only provides an opportunity for top-level competition but also a chance to connect with other athletes. “For the majority of their lives, our athletes aren’t around people like them,” says Anne, “competitions like the National and Summer Games provide that chance to look around and feel a sense of belonging.”