Abu Dhabi: It was an emotional moment for Fatma Safr when Ayman Abdul Wahab, Regional President, Special Olympics MENA, hailed her daughter Dina Gabel as the voice of ‘People With Determination’ for over four decades, ahead of the start of the Specials Olympics World Games opening ceremony in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
At 49, Dina, who hails from Cairo, Egypt has seen it all and has battled all odds to not only become a renowned athlete but also a hope for many others like her with Down’s syndrome.
It was a big day for the mother and daughter as Dina also released her book ‘Dina speaks About Herself’.
“When she was born in 1970, those days there was no hope for kids born with such disabilities. There were no medical facilities, no education and no hope,” recalled Safr, choking with emotions.
“People even said that she would die by the time she was 17. I didn’t know what would happen and how to go ahead. But see what miracle has happened following the love and compassion she has gained over the years,” said Safr, who thanked the Special Olympic movement for the support they gave once she was picked to compete in the shot put event and given a whole host of support.
“She found solace in the sport and since then there has been no looking back. That sport gave her everything; name, fame and recognition. More importantly, the love and inspiration she gained was phenomenal,” said Safr, adding that, making her the global ambassador for Special Olympics was another major boost.
“She was also called by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics at the White House in the US in 1995. It was a proud moment for her and for me. Now with this book she has again made us proud,” she said, urging all the parents and the society to give all the possible support to the determined ones.
Dina’s joy also knew no bounds and speaking in Arabic about her book, she said, “You should read it. It is in Arabic but I also have an English version of it, I will sign and give it to you. I have spoken about my struggle. I have spoken about how Special Olympics changed my life for better. It has awareness about how people can deal with kids with intellectual disabilities and on how they can make sure they reach their best potential.”