Berment-Harper: She was always smiling

Special Olympics Athlete Shanice Baptiste, shows a peace sign, as she is welcomed upon her arrival at the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport from Abu Dhabi, last year. - Angelo Marcelle
Special Olympics Athlete Shanice Baptiste, shows a peace sign, as she is welcomed upon her arrival at the VIP Lounge of the Piarco International Airport from Abu Dhabi, last year. - Angelo Marcelle

VICE chairperson of Special Olympics TT (SOTT) Candilla Berment-Harper remembered Shanice Baptiste as a “beautiful person.”

Special Olympian Baptiste died at her home, in Whiteland (near Williamsville), on Friday afternoon, after ailing with a lung disorder. A relative of the former athlete confirmed the news on Friday and said an autopsy is expected to be performed on Monday.

“She was beautiful, she always had a smile on her face, she was very helpful and she was an excellent athlete,” Berment-Harper said in an interview with Newsday, on Saturday.

Berment-Harper said SOTT will respect the family’s privacy and will wait until the funeral is over to discuss what SOTT will do to honour Baptiste.

“We can’t do anything until we hear from the family – what they want to do, what they want from us, so we will wait until after the funeral and see what can happen.”

In this photo taken last year, Special Olympian Shanice Baptiste,centre, is flanked by Abu Dhabi-based doctor Emara Maha,left, and Baptiste’s mother Ava Baptiste, during a welcome home ceremony for the athelete, held at the VIP Lounge, Piarco International Airport, Piarco. - Angelo Marcelle

Baptiste, who competed in bocce, was selected to represent TT at the 2019 Special Olympic International World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, but was unable to do so after suffering a severe asthma attack. She was taken to the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, where she stayed for close to two weeks. She was accompanied by her coach Clevanic Cupid.

Special people often have more health challenges than others and competing in sports may be challenging at times. Berment-Harper said most of TT appreciates the effort of the TT Special Olympians.

“Most of the public, they appreciate the athletes a lot. They are very proud of the athletes especially when they go away and bring back medals and have done so good abroad, especially in Abu Dhabi last year. They recognise the athletes can do a lot. I would say I believe the general public is proud of our athletes.”

At the 2019 Special Olympics World Games TT won 57 medals – 19 gold, 15 silver and 23 bronze.

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