19-year-old Joe Salter isn’t actually 19 years old like he says he is. He’s also not the fastest runner in the world like he says he is. However, Joe Salter is exactly who he wants to be, all of the time. He’s unapologetically Joe and he’s proud of it.
For the past couple of decades, Joe Salter has been competing with Area 25 for Special Olympics Virginia. He’s earned medals in powerlifting, basketball, soccer, softball, track and field, and flag football. He’s an athlete and he doesn’t quite know what he would be doing without sports. “I’d be bored,” he said.
Sports have become Joe’s outlet. He describes himself as a leader and true teammate and that’s clear through his unwavering confidence. When Joe competes, he claims he doesn’t get nervous, “When you run, everything else is in the back of your mind. It’s just, run like the wind.”
And when he crosses the finish line, “It’s just like sweet potato with butter in it.”
At Summer Games, Joe will compete in the 100m and softball throw. He’ll likely earn medals in both and he’ll add them to the “truckload” of medals he owns. While the medals aren’t to be discounted, where Joe will make the most impact is in the people he meets and the interactions he has. If it takes a truckload to fit all the medals Joe has, it would take a college campus to fit the people he’s left an impression on.
If you have the privilege of seeing Joe around the games, approach him. He will greet you with a smile under every circumstance and share a moment with you. He’ll be goofy and you might wonder, “Joe, what are you doing?”
To which he’ll reply, “I’m just being me.”
To support athletes like Joe, visit specialolympicsva.org/makeasplash.