Arnold Schwarzenegger has reconnected with Ephraim Mohlakane, a Special Olympics athlete, Board member, and former Global Messenger. Ephraim and Arnold reunited after Humans of New York posted Ephraim's story during the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.
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“It was a problem with my memory. I couldn’t remember things. Everyone else my age was moving forward, and I kept staying behind. My heart was very sore. I loved school. I wanted to be a doctor and a lawyer just like everyone else. I kept asking God: ‘Why is this happening to me?’ I tried my best. I even went to night school. But eventually my teachers said they didn’t want to waste my time. They sent me to a school to learn handwork. That’s where I learned about Special Olympics. I was an angry young man back then. I could not accept my situation. But one day I met Arnold Schwarzenegger when he came to South Africa for an event. I told him my entire story, and he said: ‘Look here, I am the Terminator, but today I am your friend. Listen to me. You are not strong in academics, but that is just one thing. It’s nothing to worry about. You are a very strong man. You can’t hate yourself for the rest of your life. It is time for you to move on.’ From that moment I began to accept myself. I now have everything in life except for academics. I work hard. I have a house. I have a family. I have a career as a soccer coach. My son attends the same school where I work—and he’s very smart. I make sure he does all his assignments. When he struggles, I bring him to his teachers so they can lift him up. I tell him: ‘Tumi, I never finished school. But God is amazing. He has made you strong where I am weak.’” (Special Olympics World Games, Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Today, Ephraim is inspiring children as a school sports coach, raising a family, and serving on the board of Special Olympics South Africa. Schwarzenegger has asked Ephraim to serve as the ambassador for connecting Special Olympics South Africa activities to the Arnold Classic Africa multi-sports festival next year.