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The Olympics Celebrate Special Olympics Mother During World Down Syndrome Day

5 people sit and 2 people stand looking official in front of a Special Olympics 50th anniversary banner.
Rajah Sy (2nd from the right) with Special Olympics Africa athlete leaders and staff.

On World Down Syndrome Day 2024, Special Olympics athletes, families, coaches and staff were being celebrated just as much as they were celebrating.

The Olympics website is one of the international outlets that shared stories about people in the movement making a big impact. In an article titled World Down Syndrome Day 2024 - Special Olympics Senegal Director Rajah Sy: ‘Inclusion is our keyword’, Special Olympics Senegal Director Rajah Sy talks about growing the Senegal program from four athletes to over 3,000.

The following is an excerpt.

“Special Olympics and I have a long history that started in 2006,” Sy recalled with a smile.

She credits her eldest daughter Khadija, who was born with Down Syndrome and is an avid runner, for introducing her to this new world. The girl had joined the Special Olympics athletics team in Dakar, and her mother began taking her to training sessions.

“That's when the 'virus' entered me and I became completely committed to the organisation,” Sy said.

 In 2006, as a parent, Sy accompanied Khadija to Lloret de Mar, Spain, for the World Games, a multi-sport event organised by Special Olympics International and held every two years.

 At that time, Senegal had a total of six athletes, and only four of them took part in the event.

 “We realised that we needed to organise ourselves, to become a true Special Olympics structure,” Sy said. “And that's when I was appointed as secretary general in the new board of directors. Then, in 2011, I was designated as national director, always on volunteer basis.”