MILTON — Loretta Claiborne has traveled all over the world, competing in the Special Olympics, and sharing her story of beating the odds. She told a group of students in the Milton Area School District she could not talk or walk until she was four, and was bullied at her school in York.
“‘That’s a dumb kid!’ Kids can be very cruel. It went from that kind of talk to pushing me around,” Claiborne said.
Claiborne spoke to students in Milton about overcoming adversity. She says the Special Olympics turned her life around.
“I always say that was my dream and it became a reality,” Claiborne said.
Loretta went from not being able to walk to running in 26 marathons. She started participating in the Special Olympics in 1970 and today, 43 years later, she is still active in the games.
Fourth and fifth graders in the Milton Area School District are learning about bullying. They recently watched a movie about Claiborne’s life.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to meet somebody who is a famous runner, and I think it’s great to be part of the Special Olympics,” Alexis Neagu said.
“I thought it was very inspiring. It’s someone famous and it kind of lets kids know who it is and gives us someone to look up to,” Taylor Snyder said.
“To treat people more with respect and to do my best and never give up,” Angel Vasquez said.
“If they get and have respect for themselves first they can learn to have respect for others, no matter what kind of ability. It’s not the disability that counts, it’s the ability that counts,” Claiborne said.
Claiborne has won countless medals in the Special Olympics. She carried the Olympic torch, and met President Bill Clinton. She told the students they can do what ever they want if they set their minds to it.