Gareth Derek Cowin was a lovable lad with a big smile.
He left an impression on everyone he met and is remembered as “a cracking man…always smiling and could put a smile on anyone’s face”... “the happiest lad I ever met”….”a breath of fresh air." Gareth passed away 30 January at a hospital in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He was 25.
For more than 16 years Gareth trained and competed with Special Olympics.
In 1995 when Gareth was just 7, he suffered severe injuries in a car accident. Two years later, at 9, he began training in swimming with Special Olympic to get strength back in his legs.
He had a voracious appetite for sport and passion for life. His can-do attitude led him to try his hand at everything – soccer, floor hockey, athletics – you name it, Gareth played it!
Gareth’ favorite sport was soccer and in his opinion there was no soccer team greater in the world than Manchester United. It was a passion he shared with his big brother Liam.
His family was always there to support him – his father Kevin, his mother Gillian, Liam and younger sister Gemma, who all loved him dearly, and he loved them.
The community of his home town Douglas on the Isle of Man, were always proud of him. Many will remember him from his time of work experience at Moochas Market where he always had a friendly smile for you.
Over the years Gareth won countless medals and travelled the world with Special Olympics, making friends wherever he went. He brought pride to the Isle of Man competing in Dublin, Ireland in 2003; Nagano, Japan in 2005; and Shanghai, China in 2007. Recently he won a gold medal in football at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens.
He loved his trips away, getting to spend time with all his teammates and his coaches Beryl Woodridge and Mike Curran who were like a second family to Gareth.
“Together we Can” reflects Gareth’s wonderful sportsmanship.
Yes, he was a dedicated and committed athlete but above all he was a team player. Nothing was as much fun for Gareth unless it was shared with his teammates and above all with his best friend Jason.
Gareth was passionate about sport and he came to South Korea to compete for his homeland in Floor Hockey. Fifteen Manx teammates and six officials will continue the 2013 World Winter Games and dedicate their competitions to him.
The 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games will be dedicated in the honor of Gareth Cowin.
Gareth demonstrated that we have gathered here in PyeongChang to celebrate – the strength of the human spirit to overcome all hardship, the courage to achieve beyond expectations and the ability to spread love, joy and compassion to all you meet.
He was a son, a brother, a best friend, a teammate, a champion and a ray of light.
Your heroism has inspired us all, Gareth. May you rest in peace.
About Kirsten Seckler: I am the vice president of branding and communications for Special Olympics.