OWEGO (WBNG) — Hundreds of people gathered in Owego Sunday afternoon to raise money to send Special Olympian Jarad Lamb’s family to Abu Dhabi.
Jarad Lamb was born with autism and didn’t speak until he was four years old. After convincing his parents to let him play sports, Jarad found his passion and is about to run on the biggest stage in the world, the International Special Olympics.
“He’s very excited,” Jarad’s mother Julie Lamb said. “Now that it is getting closer and he had all of his clothing delivered and his luggage. He saw that and he was just amazed. He’s getting excited although he told his father that he is going on vacation to Abu Dhabi, he does know he is competing and he knows what it is about.”
Jarad will run the 100-meter, 200-meter and the 400-meter relay next month in Abu Dhabi.
“He’s amazing,” Kelly Jones, Jarad’s former nurse, said. “He is so into it. All he wants to do is get out there. He wants to make people proud of him and just do his best.”
Jones worked with Jarad last summer when he traveled to Seattle to compete in the USA Special Olympic Games. At that event, he set a personal record by up to six-seconds.
“It’s still a little nerve racking because I’m not sure if he is going to be able to communicate as well as he would here with us, but he always amazes me,” Julie Lamb said. “I underestimate him most of the time.”
Sunday’s event was organized to raise money for Jarad’s parents to accompany him on his week-long trip to the Middle East. The trip will cost more than $8,000 for airfare, hotel and food.
“I want to make sure Jarad’s parents go with him because I think he needs the support,” Jarad’s great aunt Sheila Gallagher said. “He’s such a good kid. We’ve seen him go from being non-verbal to what he is today, and he just keeps impressing everyone.”
Hundreds of people attended the dinner, which offered a choice of spaghetti and meatballs or chicken and biscuits. The meal was served by members of the Tioga wrestling team.
“It’s amazing,” Julie Lamb said. “A lot of these people do not know Jarad. A lot of them do, but we just have so much support. He has so many friends. He has the wrestling team here serving food. He has just so much support and he loves every one of them.”