“She was our gold medal.”
An outpouring of tributes from multiple community organisations, sporting associations, friends and family affirmed 24-year-old Special Olympian, Shanice Patricia Baptiste, touched many lives.
At the Whiteland basketball court, on Wednesday, hundreds of well-wishers and supporters of the former national athlete came out to pay their final respects to Baptiste, who passed away on Friday. The vibrant athlete was hailed as a hard worker, cook, bocce specialist, a family-oriented person and one who gave herself to God through church.
During the eulogy, Baptiste’s sister Nicho said Shanice was in good spirits following her return from the Special Olympic International World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates last year, after being hospitalised there and unable to represent TT in bocce. However, months after, Baptiste was again hospitalised, this time in TT, and upon her return home “something changed”.
“She was our gold medal. When she got discharged (in TT), something changed. She started talking about death. She always talked about how she loved her family. Shanice also loved God and got baptised at the St. Michael’s House of Prayer in Hard Bargain. Even though she was in pain, she never stopped serving her God til the end. She fought a good fight,” stated Nichol. In 2013, Baptiste enrolled at the National Centre for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) and pursued remedial work and skills training in food preparation. During that time she made every effort to apply herself in spite of her challenges. In July 2015, she wrote the level one craft certificate in food preparation and was successful. After which, she was accepted to pursue the apprenticeship programme. She took her role seriously and even try to skip her remedial classes to complete her tasks in the kitchen. Baptiste was also avidly involved in her community’s Police Youth Club, which is still spearheaded by Subhas Ramkhelawan, resident officer and recently appointed assistant superintendent in charge of community relations nationwide.
In his short address to mourners, Ramkhelawan spoke highly of the late athlete and revealed plans to honour her contributions to the community later on this year.
“She wanted to be a member of the Whiteland Police Youth Club. I told her all she had to pay was attention. She would cook food for the children, whether they liked it or not. Shanice has been a model child and we will dedicate our upcoming Easter event called ‘Homecoming’ to her. It entails one week of activities where we relive the old time days for our young people to live, love and appreciate each other,” Rankhelawan stated.
Additionally, Special Olympics of TT (SOTT) coach Clevanic Cupid, also reminisced on their time spent together at the hospital in Abu Dhabi. Cupid was one of the coaches who accompanied Baptiste to the hospital for her week-long duration and was pleased to have shared such a sentimental connection to her.
“I was fortunate enough to have her as my daughter for one month (full duration of stay). I spent many days and nights with her at the hospital, laughing, crying, meeting patients and even learning Arabic words. She really was a gem,” said Cupid.
Meanwhile also bringing greetings on behalf of Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Shamfa Cudjoe, was the ministry’s adviser, Andre Ferguson. The funeral was officiated by Abbess Alma Thomas and led by members of the St Michael’s Spiritual Baptist Church in Princes Town.