Local Athlete Rose Baxter celebrates 50 years of the Special Olympics in Canada

Katrina Boguski

COMBERMERE – Special Olympics Canada celebrates 50 years this year, and one local athlete has been with the organization since its beginning.

50 years ago this month, the Special Olympics began in Canada. That same year, athlete Rose Baxter began her association with the games. She began her involvement with the organization by participating in track and field events when she was just 11-and-a-half years old. She has been a rock steady participant, promoter, and ambassador for the games ever since.

The Valley Gazette caught up with Rose and her sister Catherine Baxter at one of Rose’s favourite breakfast places, The Old School Café in Combermere.  During the conversation, they recounted several stories of how the Special Olympics had positively impacted Rose and the Baxter family.

At the games Rose initially participated in back in 1969, the crowd cheered her on as she was on pace to take the gold in a sprinting event.  Another participant was coming up behind her, on track to finish second; that girl tripped and fell. Rose, in a heroic act of sportsmanship, gave up her first place position to stop and help up the other girl. They crossed the finish line together, dead last.

To read the full story, pick up a copy of the May 29 Valley Gazette or subscribe online.

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  • Martin Thompson May 29, 2019 at 8:42 am

    (Might wanna change the world “sold” to “old”)

    You are a great champion on and off the track Rose!

    Rose’s story reminds me of a poem that I read aloud to my Beaver Colony quite a few years ago at an Olympics themed sleepover that we had in Petawawa when I was a Leader with Scouts Canada’s youngest youth section.

    9 Gold Medals

    The athletes had come from so many the countries
    To run for the gold and the silver and bronze
    Many weeks and months in training
    All building up to the games

    All round the field spectators were gathered
    Cheering on all the young women and men
    Then the final event of the day was approaching
    The last race about to begin

    The loudspeakers called out the names of the runners
    The one hundred metres the race to be run
    And nine young athletes stood there determined
    And poised for the sound of the gun

    The signal was given, the pistol exploded
    And so did the runners on hearing the sound
    But the youngest among them stumbled and staggered
    And he fell on his knees to the ground

    He gave out a cry of frustration and anguish
    His dreams and his efforts dashed in the dirt
    But as sure as I’m standing here telling the story
    Now it’s a strange one, but here’s what occurred

    The eight other athletes stopped in their tracks
    The ones who had trained for so long to compete
    One by one they turned round and came back to help him
    And lifted the lad to his feet

    Then all nine runners joined hands and continued
    The one hundred metres reduced to a walk
    And the banner above that said “Special Olympics”
    Could not have been nearer the mark

    That’s how the race ended, nine gold medals
    They came to the finish line holding hands still
    And the banner above and nine smiling faces
    Said more than these words ever will
    Said more than these words ever will
    – David Roth