Rise to the challenge
Raytheon Emirates family embraces its community at Abu Dhabi Games
They met the call.
When Abu Dhabi announced it would host the 2019 Special Olympics World Games, it issued a call to “Meet the Determined” at the event. Raytheon Emirates employees, embracing their community, did just that, leaping at the chance to participate in the first-ever such games in the United Arab Emirates.
David Hambleton, Raytheon Emirates' warranty administrator, said it was predestined for his family to participate, even before they moved to the country six years ago.
“I’m a very proud father with four amazing boys,” Hambleton said. “We are not superhuman. We are just people finding our way through life’s journey, which we are happy has taken us to the UAE.”
Hambleton and his wife Cassie have eight children, and their four sons – Micah, Isaac, Joel and Jonah – competed as members of the UAE team in the games, held on March 14-21. The World Games take place every two years, alternating between summer and winter. Thousands gather at the events to cheer the skills and accomplishments of people with intellectual disabilities.
The 2019 event drew 7,500 athletes representing more than 190 nations and more than 20,000 volunteers. The Hambletons supported their sons as coaches, volunteers, cheerleaders and advocates.
David taught the boys how to swim two years ago, and how to shift gears on bicycles just a few months prior to the games, while Cassie managed their drills. The family began training with Special Olympics coaches after being invited to participate only nine months before the games started.
The Hambleton boys showed their mettle. Micah won the UAE’s first World Games medal - a gold as the Special Olympics overall champion, awarded during the World Triathlon Series in Abu Dhabi. He also earned a silver in the two-kilometer, time-trial bicycle race.
“Winning gold in the first competition of the Games feels absolutely incredible," Micah Hambleton told The National. "I have never felt more proud than I did going over the finish line and representing the UAE."
Jonah placed fifth overall and took home silver for his division. He also won gold in the 10-kilometer bicycle road race. Isaac earned a silver medal in the 1,500-meter (1,640 yards) open water swim, and Joel took gold in his division.
The Hambleton athletes were featured in Special Olympics media coverage, appearing on the front page of local newspapers and in international TV broadcasts. With the World Games behind them, the family is considering heading to games in Sweden and Berlin.
As active members of the community, David and Cassie have helped open doors for their children and other families. Along with speaking at area schools, they collaborate with community leaders to form #unstoppable families, a family-friendly fitness group.
The pair are also members of U.S.-based organizations that help parents and children with fetal alcohol spectrum and autism spectrum disorders integrate into society and maximize their potential.
Raytheon Emirates is exploring other ways employees can volunteer with the local Special Olympics chapter, both to build awareness and help athletes celebrate the victories they achieve over such huge odds.
“I thought I would do well, but winning is a dream come true,” Micah said. “I hope this will inspire more people…and show the world just how successful we can be.”