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Loretta Claiborne
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Loretta Claiborne was the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and mildly retarded, she was unable to walk or talk until age 4.  Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of 25 marathons, twice placing among the top 100 women in the Boston Marathon. She's carried the torch in the International Special Olympics, has won medals in dozens of its events, and also holds  the current women's record in her age group for the 5000 meters at 17 minutes.

Today, Claiborne is a celebrated athlete who was honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Her life is recounted in Walt Disney Productions The Loretta Claiborne Story (originally broadcast on ABC-TV and now on videocassette) and in the biography In Her Stride published by WorldScapes.  Considering all of Claiborne's achievements, these are just small steps in her life's mission to show that persons with mental and physical disabilities are equal to those without.

Loretta Claiborne

"I figured if my story could change a person's mind about another person, or especially a child's mind about another child, then it was the right thing to do," Claiborne says.  Now in her early fifties, the athlete recalls a time when children taunted her for being different and how the taunting turned her into an angry young woman who was expelled from high school and fired from a job.  

Although she loved to run and used her speed and strength to protect herself in fights against cruel classmates, she credits the Special Olympics with helping her realize that her tremendous athletic talent could be used to do good.

Claiborne was first introduced to Special Olympics by social worker Janet McFarland (played by Emmy Award-winner Camryn Manheim in the movie). She credits McFarland as well as her family, community, educators, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver and her own strong spirituality with giving her the confidence necessary to become a world-class runner.

Loretta Claiborne

"If it weren't for sports, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I was very angry before and sports was the arena that turned that around for me," Claiborne says. "I got support from family, community and God -- he is the strength of all and can make anything possible."  The Loretta Claiborne Story not only outlines Claiborne's personal and spiritual journey, but it shows her joyful, sometimes mischievous personality.

Loretta's Mom:
Case Worker:
Teachers Dog:
How many medals did she win at World Games?
What war did Sam go to?
What did Sam give her before he left?
Whats Loretta's favorite fruit?
What two words in the letter make Loretta's mom send her to the Special Olympics?
What language did she learn?
Who is Tim?
Who is Andy?
Did Loretta win the Boston Marathon?
How much money did she raise for the track team?



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