How many years have you been with Special Olympics, and with which sports?
I have been a unified partner for the past 7 years. I started out being a unified partner for basketball, then was asked to play for Softball. We have been the State Champions in Softball for the past 6 years in the highest division in Virginia. This past year I have been asked to teach a course at ECPI for adults who are trying to continue their education. Our plan is to get them ready to advance their education and/or prepare for the workforce. Since being in the class, I have taken a different role as a coach. I coached our Bocce team, which had three individual participates and 3 unified teams. We brought home 5 golds and 1 silver in our first ever games. Two of the three are going to participate with the third being an alternate.
What is the biggest problem/obstacle that you`ve had to overcome?
I do not have to overcome anything close to what these amazing athletes do. I have been able to incorporate my family into assisting with Special Olympics. My 14 year son assists as Unified Partner. My other kids know the athletes and when they do not come the other athletes are almost sad because they love the interaction.
What makes you most proud?
I always get teary eyed during the opening ceremonies. To see these athletes from all walks of life and different parts of the world come together. They are so excited for each other to be able to compete and put their best foot forward. They all want to win, but at the same time see their friends be successful.
How has Special Olympics changed your life?
Whenever I am with these athletes, they show me that they overcome obstacles everyday just to get through the day. Any time I feel sorry for myself, these athletes always find a way to lift me up, even though they are dealing with way more than I can ever imagine. I look forward to any day I get to be around my students or athletes, they make me want to be a better person.