Last week, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea, the host country of our 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games. It was thrilling to see all of the ways the Games are already beginning to take shape. We released the official Games emblem, and I was also lucky enough to meet Ra, In, and Bow (pictured above), the Games mascots and natural treasures of the Gangwon province who will deliver passion and courage to athletes on their journey toward to 2013 in Pyeongchang! Ra represents the safety of the athletes, In will greet the guests with love, and Bow will take care of all the fun. We saw their personalities shine during their debut! The real highlight was meeting clarinetist and Special Olympic swimmer Jin Ho Kim who performed with Yiruma, an internationally known pianist and composer, for the unveiling of the mascots and Games logo. Jin Ho Kim will compete in swimming at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens this summer and also perform during closing ceremonies.
Thanks to the outstanding leadership of Congresswoman Kyung Won Na, Chairwoman of the Games Organizing Committee, and Moon Soon Choi, Governor of Gangwon Province, there is already tremendous government and corporate support for the Games. Dr. Kim Eun-Joo, Director of Special Education Division, Dr. Woo Yi Gu, Senior Supervisor, Special Education Division, and Byoung Gug Choung, Minister of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, expressed their excitement for the Games and how the 2013 events will showcase the ability and courage of people with intellectual disabilities throughout Korea. I was able to share in the excitement as the GOC signed a deal with the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Korea’s leading public broadcaster, to be the official host broadcaster of the Winter Games. I also had a chance to meet with a number of potential supporter, including the Federation of Korean Industries, Korea’s largest business association, and the American Chamber of Commerce. Our Technical Delegates in speed and figures skating also examined the venues to document the facilities are of world-class quality for our athletes. Busy, but great week!