Valley Center Peace Corps volunteer organizes Mongolia Special Olympics games

James Busacca stands in back of some of his Mongolian Special Olympics organizers and by Courtesy image.

March 11, 2015
Good morning, Ulan Bator, Mongolia. The pride of Lilac Road, Valley Center, California, James Busacca, is in the house.

A Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia, Busacca is a man on a mission. "There is a lack of public dialogue around intellectual disabilities in Mongolia," he said, "which can lead to stigmas and misconceptions."

Let the Ulan Bator Special Olympics games by Courtesy image.
The man with a plan, Busacca helped organize Mongolia's inaugural Special Olympics. That's a national competition for more than 150 children and adults with intellectual disabilities -- 14 of whom will represent Mongolia at the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, said Erin Durney, a Peace Corps public affairs specialist.

Busacca worked with Special Olympics Mongolia and four local special needs schools to give the athletes an opportunity to discover new strengths and abilities while increasing awareness. "The competition allowed the athletes to compete and have fun but was also an educational opportunity for the general public," he said.

Following graduation from the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Valley Center High School graduate in 2012 joined the Peace Corps, created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The Peace Corps has allowed 220,000 Americans to serve in 140 countries worldwide.

Special Olympics Mongolia

The Special Olympics Mongolia program was established in 2013 and the National Competition was the first opportunity for Mongolians to compete in an official Special Olympics event as an accredited program, Durney said. Busacca began working with Special Olympics Mongolia last fall to help plan the three-day competition, which included events in track and field, judo and table tennis, she added.

"Special Olympics Mongolia has been a great organization to work with because we get to offer amazing experiences to Mongolians with disabilities and their families," Busacca said. "We also get a chance to educate a wide audience throughout the country through high-profile events like the Special Olympics World Summer Games."

The Peace Corps has had a long-standing relationship with Special Olympics since the organization was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver. In 2011, the Peace Corps signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Special Olympics that increases opportunities globally to support people with intellectual disabilities through innovative programs that promote peace, friendship, acceptance, and mutual understanding.

"I'm very excited for the athletes going to the World Summer Games and for those who had the opportunity to participate in the National Competition," Busacca said. "My favorite memory from the competition was getting to talk to the athletes and see their excitement and enthusiasm. We've already heard from their families and the event organizers that they plan to make the competition an annual event."

The athletes who qualified for the summer games in Los Angeles will join more than 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches from nearly 180 countries around the world to compete. The opening ceremony, to be held July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, is expected to attract 80,000 people.




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