Hi, I’m Thea. I work at Little Red Hen and I just came back from competing at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi. Here is my story about the exciting adventure I went on!
My golf partner Jessie and I flew out of Sacramento Metropolitan Airport. The sponsor for our flight was United Airlines. We had a police escort through the airport and through TSA which was pretty exciting. Then the USA Team flew from Sacramento to Newark, New Jersey where we met up with the rest of our golf team. We stayed at the Marriott hotel for the night. We left the next morning with the whole USA Team and were even given a heroʼs goodbye from the hotel and the Special Olympics staff. We were given another police escort from the hotel to JFK Airport in New York. It was so exciting to be escorted by the police department. Then we flew on a middle eastern airline from Dubai. It took us 14 hours to get from JFK to Dubai, so the flight was very long.
Once we got to Dubai we had to go through customs and go through a huge line where we had our eyes scanned. We received our luggage after it had been taken through a huge machine to make sure we didn't have anything that was dangerous. Then we waited for our duffel bags and our golf clubs to be put on the buses so we could be taken to a really nice hotel. They have some really beautiful hotels in Dubai. They gave us water and food for the bus ride to the hotel which ended up being a 2-hours.
The city was so pretty at night. There were so many shining lights. It’s one of the most expensive cities to visit. We had meetings with the team every morning about what our plan was going to be for the day. We were kept very busy, our day would start in the early morning eating breakfast. The food was mainly from their culture like rice, chicken curry, lamb, different kinds of meats, fruits, and vegetables. You did have your choice for food, but there definitely wasn't hamburgers, fries or soups of any kind there.
We got the opportunity to tour a school for the intellectually disabled where they had different stations that you could go to do activities with the kids. Later on, we practiced on the golf course that was on Yas Island, right next to our hotel. Then a couple of days later we had four days of golf competition.
Opening Ceremonies were on ESPN and also ABC Stations. We were in our United States Outfits for opening ceremonies. We had to be in different attire the whole time. We were kept in a white tent with all the USA Teams and everybody from different countries. The first day I shot a 62. The second day I shot a 67. The third day I shot a 68. It was a pretty tough course. Unfortunately, I ended up getting the stomach flu on the last day and had to withdraw from the competition. On the bright side, Jessie and I got a Participation Ribbon.
We got to go and visit the Grand Mosque with our Golf Team. The ladies had to wear scarves and my friend Mitchell wore the garb from their country when went on the tour of the Grand Mosque which was very interesting. It was only an hour long and we had to wear a radio with an earpiece to hear the lady translate in English and in Arabic. Then we got to go camel riding and four-wheeling in the desert. We also got to go to one of the largest amusement parks in Dubai.
The closing ceremonies were the most fun because we got to trade shirts, jackets, hats, and pins with people from other countries. I traded some shirts that my golf coach Vince gave me to trade with. I traded my USA Bucket Hat for an Italian Adidas Hat. I brought home so many items from the games and also a couple of shirts. People were dancing and having a good time. They also had singers and fireworks going off in the stadium. When we flew back to Colorado we got a huge welcome back from the passengers and from the United Airlines Staff, then once we arrived in Sacramento we had Families and my mom Sue welcomed us home from the games. I will never forget my golf team. We had a fantastic time and we were sad to leave but were glad to get to sleep in our own beds and eat American food like hamburgers and fries.