It was the Special Olympics Softball National Championships 2012 in Alwar.
The tension in the stadium was palpable. The game had turned intense. All eyes were on Viraj. In seconds, it was going to be his moment of glory.
As he hit the last ball of the match, ending the game on a perfect pitch to win his team the gold, Viraj recalled the rigorous training sessions in his village in Goa the village where he lives with his ailing mother in a tiny one-room house.
Viraj was barely three when his father, the sole bread-winner of the family, died of a heart attack. Viraj became the only hope for his ailing mother who worked hard to give her child a decent education and lifestyle.
Eager not to disappoint his mother either, Viraj tried to perform well at school. But he was unable to cope with the regular curriculum. He constantly found himself unable to keep up with his peers during lessons.
One day, a volunteer from Special Olympics Bharat met Viraj’s mother and counseled her about his special needs. The volunteer also helped enroll Viraj into a special school for intellectually disabled children in Goa. Here, he received basic education and vocational training.
Alongside, Special Olympics Bharat also helped Viraj train in sports to build his confidence. Viraj took an instant liking to softball and started training regularly. He practiced hard and would follow his coach’s instructions to reach the Special Olympics Softball National Championship 2012 held in Alwar. Helped by his brilliant performance, the team went on to win the gold.
For Viraj, his victory meant far more his mother had realised her dream of seeing her son as a confident young man.
There are 30 million people like Viraj who have with intellectual disabilities, in India. In the last 12 years, the support of people like you has helped Special Olympics Bharat reach out to more than 850,000 such people.