Holy Cross High School was honored to welcome guest speaker, Loretta Claiborne, a global speaker and world-class runner who competes in the Special Olympics. In her powerful and inspirational speech to the students and faculty, Ms. Claiborne shared the personal challenges she faced as a young woman and how the key people in her life helped her to develop into the person she is today. She challenged the Crusader community to be careful with their words, extend a kind hand to others and to volunteer whenever possible. Listen to her powerful speech here.
According to her official website, Ms. Claiborne was the middle of seven children in a poor, single-parent family. Born partially blind and intellectually challenged, she was unable to walk or talk until age four. Eventually, though, she began to run. And before she knew it, she had crossed the finish line of twenty-six marathons, twice placing among the top one-hundred women in the Boston Marathon. She introduced President Bill Clinton at the 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games, 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 seventeen minutes. Today, Claiborne is a celebrated athlete who was honored in 1996 with ESPN's ESPY Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
Running is not the only part of Claiborne's life. She holds a 4th degree black belt in karate, communicates in four languages, including American Sign Language, and holds two honorary doctorate degrees; one from Quinnipiac University and one from Villanova University, making her the first person with an intellectual disability known to receive such honors, according to Special Olympics Incorporated. However, Claiborne says the most rewarding part of her life has been her involvement with the Special Olympics, and she wants to continue helping people with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities succeed.