Sixteen-year-old Jared Lamb of Owego, N.Y. and a student in the Tioga Central School District and BOCES Oak Tree program is counting the days until he takes off for Abu Dhabi as a participant in the International Special Olympics World Games.
Abu Dhabi, located along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf and part of the United Arab Emirates, is some 7,000 miles from Owego.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience for Jared as part of “Team New York” and “Team USA,” he will join others from New York State and nearly 7,500 young people and adults from 192 nations around the world. The World Games are scheduled March 14 to March 21, with competitions planned for more than 20 Olympic-style sports.
Jared became involved with Special Olympics five years ago following a suggestion by a teacher at BOCES.
To get to the World Games, individuals must have won a gold medal, and for Jared, he achieved that by winning gold in a 400 meter run. Jared has collected plenty of other medals along the way, too.
“The 400 is my favorite,” Jared previously shared with the Owego Pennysaver, and while at a Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle last summer, he broke his record by six seconds.
The 400 is on Jared’s list for Abu Dhabi, as is the standing long jump and 400 x 100 relay.
Jared’s mother, Julie, commented, “Special Olympics have encouraged Jared to overcome many obstacles in his life.”
Julie further explained that Jared was diagnosed at a young age with autism and was non-verbal until age four. Today, Jared participates on the football, wrestling and track teams at Tioga, and it has been his determination and hard work, along with inspiration from his older brother, Austin, among others, to continue improving, and without being treated any different than any other student.
In December, Jared won his first Varsity wrestling match, an exciting moment for Jared and his team, as well as family, friends and fans.
Earlier this month, Jared gave a try at downhill skiing for the first time with his Special Olympics group at Greek Peak Mountain Resort. Another first, Jared recently drove go- karts at Destiny USA in Syracuse.
A fundraiser and benefit is planned on Sunday, Jan. 20, from noon to 6 p.m. at the Owego Moose Lodge, located at 3 Goodrich Rd. in Owego. The benefit features a meal, along with raffles and an auction.
Meal tickets are $10 and offer guests a choice of spaghetti with meatballs or chicken and biscuits. The meal also includes dessert.
As a Special Olympics athlete, a majority of Jared’s costs are covered by the organization. The family is raising money for their own travel expenses.
The Lamb’s stated, “Our family would like to be able to accompany Jared to Abu Dhabi to give him much needed emotional support and encouragement,” adding, “Please consider helping us to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Julie also commented, “It’s so heartwarming to see how many people care about Jared, and we thank you all.”
For additional information, including how to order commemorative T-shirts, follow the Facebook page, “Jared’s Olympic Journey,” or contact Sheila Gallagher at (607) 972-3116.