September 17, 2012 | Asia Pacific: Bharat (India)

Another Milestone Achieved

By Ashok Baride

This is my son Sahil

Sahil Baride knows what it takes to make a true athlete. Dedication. Sacrifice. Guts. Humility. He has all that and more. Sahil practices for hours, sweating through fatigue and taking big gulps of air before diving back underneath the water’s surface. Through it all, one thing is on his mind – bring home a medal and make his parents proud. Sahil’s selection as member of the Indian delegation of swimmers at the Special Olympics Global Aquatics Meet in Puerto Rico was a dream-come-true for him. A chance to represent India was a rare and an honorable opportunity – achieved through personal grit and effort. For us parents, though, the opportunity was even more special. In a world where stereotypes and cruel words fall far too often on the ears of children affected by disabilities, the chance to shine is never taken for granted. Like his teammates, Sahil refused to let his abilities get the best of him. He took his diagnosis of Down syndrome and ran with it. He developed his physical and social skills by trying out music, dance, drama, sports and trekking. Today, Sahil is pursuing 5-year course in Hospitality & Catering. Like any teenager, he keeps exploring an opportunity to have girlfriends, spend hours before computer playing games or watch movies & songs to imitate the various dancing steps, day-dreams of being cast in a film or meet his favorite movie star. His goal is to be a Chef at a 5-star hotel. “Kids like Sahil may have an extra chromosome, but it doesn’t change the fact that they can do most things. They rock that extra chromosome” says Sahil’s mother proudly.

About Ashok Baride: I am the parent of a Special Olympics athlete.
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