FOCUS: Meet One of the Oldest Special Olympics Unified Partners
Volunteer blog writer, Jill Munir, finds out how this seafaring Unified Partner proves age is just a number and the desire to support people of determination can always be strong
Roland Foerster is 77 years old. He is one of the oldest competitors taking part in the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Roland is competing with the USA delegation as a Unified Sports partner with 21-year-old Tyler Dodson in Sailing Level 2 Unified. Both Roland and Tyler are from Texas and are having the time of their lives at Abu Dhabi Yacht and Sailing Club.
“I am mesmerized by the architecture,” says Roland. “I cannot get over how beautiful Abu Dhabi and Dubai is. I had no idea what to expect and that the Emirati people are so gracious and kind.”
Tyler, who is a bit quieter, said: “What I like the most has been the food. I cannot stop trying and eating all the different kinds of food.” Roland adds with a smile, “Tyler is eating everything he can try.”
It may seem like an odd match at first sight, but Roland and Tyler have great energy and synergy. Roland is driven by the goal of passing on all he knows to his young sailing partner Tyler. He believes if they set their minds to achieving great results, they will. You must believe to achieve.
Roland has been competing as a Unified Sports partner in sailing since 2005 and loves it. He loves to sail. Tyler, on the other hand, has been involved in Special Olympics since 4th grade. He started with athletics and trains in kayaking, sailing, basketball, swimming, and bowling. They have been sailing together for the last six years in Dallas. Tyler feels so blessed and is excited to have the opportunity to represent the States at the World Games.
The Special Olympics movement is very important to Tyler, allowing him to socialize and meet many new people all over the world. He has to control the helm for 100 percent of the race from the starting signal until clearing the finish line.
The USA sailing team is being coached by Steve Comen, someone who is also well versed in the movement having been a Special Olympics Unified Sports partner in Ireland in 2003, China in 2007, Los Angeles in 2015 and now a coach in Abu Dhabi.
Sailing is one of 24 Olympic-style sports that are being contested during Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. Every team of one, two or three members aims to sail through a specific course in the shortest possible time.
Speed, power, and intelligence are three very important assets for success in any sport and sailing in Special Olympics is no different. The best sailors develop these assets to the best of their capabilities and when you add the bravery associated with taking on the elements, it is well worth a trip to the Corniche today and tomorrow to catch the action. Come out and follow Roland and Tyler’s odyssey!