"I always knew what I wanted. The hardest part was overcoming the prejudice of those who thought I was not capable,” says Juan Atilio Special Olympics athlete, born in the province of Catamarca, Argentina. Juan is now 39 years old and his dream was to become a physical education professor.
Juan said he had a hard time achieving it: "The director of the career center told me that she would never give me the title of professor because of my disability. 'I can offer him a job as a gardener,' she told my crying mom.” Juan did not let the prejudice of others limit his dreams and replied with confidence: "God will help me and you will reconsider it. I assure you I will make it.”
It was not an easy road. It was interrupted several times by frustration and despair. But Juan's desire, conviction, and vocation were stronger. Juan went through a loss with the death of his coach, Professor German Perez, but he had new hopes when he was able to participate in the Special Olympics World Games, Greece 2011. His motivation came back and he filled himself with strength, in honor of his coach.
His journey through several special schools, his training in crafts, his efforts to finish his secondary education, were steps that led him to fulfill the dream of becoming a professor. Today, after 10 years of studying the career, he is in the last stage of study for his professional practice. Juan is an inspiration to his teammates, being the great motivator he is and defender of the rights of persons with disabilities. "Special Olympics is my life. It gave me everything and I want to be able to give something back. That’s why I want to be a professor and work with other athletes."