Management Team Member, Duval County
I first got involved with Special Olympics when our son Caleb, born with Down syndrome, was three years old. A friend emailed me about a new program called Young Athletes, intended to get young children with differences involved in physical activity. I was all about it, having grown up loving sports. We were soon kicking, throwing and balancing our way through the program. We both had a wonderful experience those early years, and I began helping with some community-based programs to encourage others in our area to bring their young ones.
Fast forward to that magic number 8 in the world of Special Olympics — Caleb could finally participate in sports training and competition. What a thrill to see him get engaged with so many different offerings – track, golf, swimming, bowling, the list goes on. I was asked to join our local management team, which I did enthusiastically.
Caleb is now 12 and as involved as ever, and so am I. My roles on our team have shifted a bit through the years. I led the effort for Young Athletes for many years, after seeing the successful springboard that it was for our son. Currently, I’m chairing company partnership events, including the torch icon campaign with Publix and Procter & Gamble, and the annual campaign with TD Bank, and love seeing the community get engaged.
I can’t say enough about Special Olympics Florida, honestly; I’m a huge fan. From the sporting events, to the Health Athletes & Healthy Community initiatives, to the Unified Sports program and Athlete Leadership, they deliver on so many levels – physical activity, healthy living advice, medical screenings, not to mention the intangibles like self-esteem, compassion, friendship and inclusion.
I’ve seen the benefit for athletes, partners, volunteers, schools and the broader community. We pretty much live and breathe Special Olympics these days, between practices, events and helping to raise needed funds. It’s a huge part of our lives, and I know, always will be.