In Uganda, "Because of Special Olympics, I am Somebody"

August 10, 2012

When Florence Nabayinda was diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, her mother ran away. Her father treated her harshly and she grew up amid violence and neglect in a rural Uganda village.

300x200 Florence Nabayinda 6

Florence Nabayinda of Uganda found a place in Special Olympics.

An Opportunity

Florence slept on the ground, and night after night she fought off insect-born disease, flu and abuse from relatives who did not understand her disability. The young girl could not look for help from others in Masaka village, where school officials called her “useless” and “unteachable.”

But a brighter future lay ahead. Another family took pity on her, and adopted Florence when she was a young teenager. They helped to get her back to school, even though she attended class with small children half her age. They also suggested she take part in Special Olympics. 


She Can Run

For the first time, Florence was able to do something other children could do: run! She raced and grew strong and received compliments. People were smiling at her and congratulating her – an amazing new experience after a lifetime of scolding, mockery and abuse.

“Because of Special Olympics, I am somebody,” Florence says, looking back on it all. She trained as a long-distance runner and competed in the Special Olympics Tanzania 10K, and a half-marathon at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 1999, receiving gold medals at both races.

300x200 Florence 1

After a difficult childhood, Nabayinda found strength, courage and persistence in herself.

A Bright Future

“Growing up, I felt I could do nothing in life – [I was] thrown away like trash, ridiculed as ‘stupid’, and forced to quit school,” Florence explains. “But when I ran a race, I was somebody, and through running and Special Olympics I found my voice.”

 Florence has been using that voice ever since – not only as a representative for Uganda at the Special Olympics World Games, but also as a global spokesperson for the Special Olympics movement. She has now been involved with Special Olympics for more than 10 years and currently works at the Special Olympics Uganda headquarters. She has also adopted a child, and her dream is to one day serve in the Parliament.


Gifts Shine Through

In Kenya, a young man who was shunned becomes a beloved, talented coach.
Learn More ››


Deon Namiseb

He's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.
Learn More ››



Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

Help us reach out to one more athlete.

Donate »

Find events near you and learn about volunteer opportunities at one of our 220 worldwide locations.

FIND A LOCATION NEAR YOU »

Videos and Photos

DifferentBarry Cairns tells what it's like to be a Special Olympics athlete.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

SpeechlessSpecial Olympics changed her life in deep and meaningful ways.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Summer GamesAround the world, months of practice are paying off.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Photos on FBSee photos and comments from our supporters around the world.See Photos »


Videos and Photos

Hope in HaitiLeo and Gedeon play in makeshift fields, tent towns, wherever they can.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Finding His VoiceDavid Egan has always dreamed big. Now look at him!Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Sport Teaches UsOur life-changing work is fueled by the power of sport.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Making SuccessDoctors said Lani is “never going to achieve anything.” Learn More »


Videos and Photos

Very Very SpecialMusic helps Special Olympics make an impact worldwide.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Around The WorldGreat photos of Special Olympics events and people.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Focus on ChangeWhat we do can't be done without our partners.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Power of SportsSports are a powerful way to change our athlete’s lives.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

What We DoSports, health, education, community and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Who We AreWe are athletes, families, celebs, volunteers and more.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Summer SportsOur athletes run, jump, swim and score in summer.See Slideshow »


Videos and Photos

Playing UnifiedUnified Sports reveals strengths in every team member.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Healthier AthletesOur free health clinics are making a huge difference.Watch Video »


Videos and Photos

Deon NamisebHe's a speaker and role model. It didn't start that way in Namibia.Learn More »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan