Loss and legacy: Saying goodbye to Jim Balamaci

By all accounts, Jim Balamaci, who died abruptly final week at sixty three, was nearly the perfect pal Alaska’s particular athletes might have had. Balamaci devoted a lot of his life to constructing the Particular Olympics program in Alaska, from four hundred athletes to 2,000 — and with one of many world’s few Particular Olympics coaching amenities in addition.

Jim Balamaci (Particular Olympics Alaska photograph)

Many people who have been right here in 2001 keep in mind the Particular Olympics World Winter Video games once they got here to Anchorage — greater than three,000 athletes from eighty nations. Alaska was a pure to host the video games, and never only for our miles of Kincaid ski trails and abundance of skating ice. We have lengthy cherished our particular athletes; hundreds of Alaskans have volunteered, coached and donated time, cash and items to assist the athletes break by way of bodily and psychological obstacles to be within the recreation. Balamaci, the longtime president of Particular Olympics Alaska, marshaled lots of people to make that occur for an ever-rising variety of Alaskans.

In line with Harlow Robinson of the Alaska Sports activities Corridor of Fame, Balamaci spoke movingly on the induction of the Winter Video games of 2001 into the corridor as a sports activities second. He needed his athletes not on the periphery, not separate, however a part of the mainstream of sports activities in Alaska.

That testifies to a deep comprehension of what stirs the guts about sports activities, from a world-class Alaska skier to a choked-up 5-yr-previous who struggles to hit a baseball off a tee — to satisfy head-on daunting bodily challenges together with the challenges of worry and doubt, to remain robust once you tremble. With Particular Olympians, we see those self same challenges, typically in sharper aid.

Pals say the athletes liked Balamaci and he liked them again. That is arduous to beat for an epitaph.

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