Within Special Olympics there are Athlete Leaders who have taken responsibility for acting as the voice of Special Olympics within their community. Athlete Leaders are an important part of the Special Olympics movement. Through sports they are empowered to share their passion with others. Special Olympics Florida has nearly 300 Athlete Leaders, including Malcom from St. Lucie County, Florida. Malcom has a goal of becoming an official sportscaster and has written about some of his favorite experiences with the hope that other athletes will be inspired by his journey.
My Name is Malcom Harris-Gowdie and I am an Athlete Leader from St. Lucie County, Florida. My experience as an Athlete Leader has been amazing. I have gotten to attend Global Messenger Training at WESH-TV studios in Orlando to do a PSA and be interviewed by news anchor Jim Payne. Athlete Leaders also learn how important it is to be a fundraiser, attend trainings and to get involved in Athlete Congress. Being an Athlete Leader has helped me with confidence and learning how to have a voice on issues that affect the athlete population in Special Olympics Florida.
At Athlete Congress in 2013, I had the honor and privilege to sit on a table discussing issues that concern the athletes such as food allergies, having a moment of silence at State Games, and other critical topics in Special Olympics, making sure all athletes have a say in issues that are important to them.
Next, I commentated at State Basketball Championships getting stories and perspective from athletes, coaches, volunteers, and Unified Partners and asking them about what Special Olympics means to them. I also commentated at my Area Bowling competition, showing others how to commentate on the action and to congratulate the athletes receiving awards. Following Area Bowling, I conducted interviews at State Summer Games where I was a roving reporter for two days at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Recently, I got an invite to the ESPY Awards courtesy of the Walt Disney Company, with two tickets to attend the show. The reason I got this opportunity was because I spoke at a golf tournament, sharing my story and letting people know that I would like to become the first sportscaster with Autism.
As an Athlete Leader those are some of things that I have been able do. Because Special Olympics Florida helped me to have these opportunities, it has given me confidence to excel as a sportscaster and for that I would like to thank Special Olympics Florida, especially in St. Lucie County for providing me the opportunity to make my dreams come true as the first sportscaster with Autism.
For those athletes who would like to become Athlete Leaders, I would like to share with you the steps I took for becoming an Athlete Leader in Special Olympics. First, I had to find a mentor in order to help me with trainings. I’m happy I found Leslie from Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce as my mentor. I also had to fill out an athlete bio form, and demonstrate good behavior and sportsmanship on and off the field. Finally, I had to understand the responsibility of being on the Athlete Input Council and what it takes to fulfill that role.
If any athlete would like to be an Athlete Leader in Special Olympics, I recommend you find your County Director and express what you would like do.