1st sports fest for people with disabilities set


From left, First Lady Diann Torres, Finance Secretary Larissa Larson, and Office of Grants Management administrator Epi Cabrera turn over the check donation to Public School System athletics program director Nick Gross and Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. executive director James Rayphand for the 2018 Disabled Sports Festival yesterday at the Governor’s Office conference room on Capital Hill. (Jon Perez)

The 2018 Disabled Sports Festival received a huge shot in the arm after the Office of Grants Management donated $70,000 to help fund the inaugural event that will be hosted by Saipan this July.

OGM administrator Epi Cabrera said the donation is part of their office’s support in the event that aims to provide leisure activities to people in the CNMI with disabilities.

“The money is for the CNMI Disable Sports Fest. We hope that everybody will compete in the project and have fun. This is in line with getting more awareness for disabled people. Let’s make this an annual thing,” said Cabrera.

“This is our promise—on behalf of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog, the Lady Diann Foundation, and Department of Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson—of providing the committee with funds for the event.”

Cabrera lauded the committee for trying their best in putting up the sports fest. “They are making sure this will be well planned for people with disabilities. Our contribution is for a good cause,” Cabrera said.

“This is the governor and the administration’s share. The committee is still looking for other sources of funding to make sure that the inaugural sports fest would be successful.”

The project is in collaboration with the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. led by executive director James Rayphand, Lady Diann Foundation, and Public School System athletics program director Nick Gross under the Student Support Services.

“The sports fest is the result of numerous agencies collaborating to offer sporting, recreational, and leisure opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Majority of our audience is in school age, but there will be some adult members from the three island communities that will be participating as well,” Gross told Saipan Tribune.

“We hoped to engage the community and other stakeholders in identifying funding to ensure that this becomes an annual event,” Gross added.

Saipan will be hosting the inaugural event set from July 5 to 8 with majority of the activities to be held at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. A welcome ceremony for all the participants is also scheduled on July 5 with the venue still to be determined.

Gross said they plan to make the Disability Sports Festival an annual event every March, which coincides with the Disabilities Awareness Month.

The precision sport of boccia, adaptive softball, paravolley (sitting volleyball), athletics, and outrigger canoe are the events lined up for the sports fest.

“All of the participants will also get the opportunity to enjoy swimming as a form of leisure activity. A banquet is also being planned to honor our guests from Tinian and Rota as well as all our on-island participants on July 7,” said Gross.

The venue for the closing banquet is yet to be determined.

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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