The world of Special Olympics says thank you Austria.

Over 20 years ago the Special Olympics movement to came to Austria and for the first time – the Games globalized our movement. And when we came here that time, there was the heartbeat of Special Olympics Austria and Styria and it was Hermann Kröll and we still hold Hermann Kröll as the heartbeat tonight. He remains the force that unites us. May I ask you in just a few minutes to put your hand on your hearts and feel your own heartbeats and if you would hold Hermann Kröll in your heart, too. And hold all those who could not be with us tonight in your hearts. Hold all those doctors who are fighting for health justice, hold them in your heart. Hold all those children who want to go to daycare centers and learn to play, hold all of them in your hearts. Hold all those mothers who still want a chance to be proud of their children, hold them in your hearts. Hold all of those who have been terrorized by indifference and war and violence and don’t know that the world really cares about them. Hold them all in your hearts. You athletes need to be able to remind them all that we can and we will create a world of welcome for all of them. And if we hold them in our hearts, there is indeed nothing that can stop us. It will not be easy. There will be opposition. There will be those who say exclude. There will be those who say it’s too expensive. There will be those who say our athletes don’t deserve a chance. Athletes, you know better. You got to have a good offense. You got to train hard with grit and perseverance. You’ve got to be determined in the face of every enemy. But if you are and if you carry yourself with grit, determination, perseverance, and empathy, too, you will win. You will win your gold medals here and all over the world.

Let us set our hearts then on the victory that matters most – when someone says what’s wrong, we say you’ve got the question wrong – we’re strong, and we’re ready to defeat every enemy. And if you need to be reminded there’s a world with no barriers, look to the mountains behind us – they don’t know nationalities. They don’t know language. They don’t know religion or culture. They don’t know clothing or any other cultural difference, they just rise up and that’s us, too. Athletes you give everything that you’ve got, no holds barred. Leave nothing behind. Amaze your coaches like you’ve never done and you will win gold.    

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