Special Olympics Florida athlete Jonathan Doring is no stranger to winning medals, and after 37 months of hard work this unique athlete is on the precipice of earning the one million points needed to receive the Presidential Champions Platinum Award. The Presidential Champions winner’s list is sprinkled with the names of military personnel, medical doctors and an occasional Grand Master of martial arts – quite a club that Doring will proudly join. While it’s taken 37 months for him to reach his goal, he’s really picked up the pace over the last year.
The Presidential Challenge program encourages people of all ages and abilities to increase their physical activity and improve their fitness through research-based information, easy-to-use tools, and friendly motivation. Users earn points by tracking everyday activity like playing tennis, walking the dog, yard work or even vacuuming and housework. The program’s goal is to prove that anyone can be more active, more often.
Doring has been active in Special Olympics since 1988, competing in softball, bowling, golf, speed skating, and swimming but his passion is playing tennis. And he has a collection of medals from around the globe to prove it. In his journey as a Special Olympics athlete Doring has said that “Special Olympics has taught me to set realistic goals and to work hard to attain them.”
To become a Presidential Champion and reach his goal of one million points, Doring had to get moving. He started logging his activity on the President’s Challenge website in early 2012. He also earned points for eating healthier by dropping soda from his diet, opting for salad or yogurt for lunch, fruits and vegetables for snacks and the most difficult of all, eating fewer cookies and candy.
Studies that found that despite the widespread belief that individuals with intellectual disabilities receive better health care than the rest of the population, for a myriad of reasons people with intellectual disabilities actually have poorer health. Programs like Special Olympics and the Presidential Challenge work to improve health by increasing activity and changing public perceptions about people with intellectual disabilities.
When Doring set out on his wellness journey three years ago, another goal he wanted to accomplish was a return to the Special Olympics World Games – and he’s doing that, too. Only this time he won’t be competing in a sport. His return will be a reflection of his dedication and hard work when he attends the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in the role of tennis official (fewer than 20 other athletes have earned this distinction). In addition to his active lifestyle, Doring also works as a Publix Associate, is a graduate of Santaluces High School and also received an Associate of Science Degree in Computer Technology from Palm Beach State College.