How Special Olympics Changed One Athlete’s Life

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Timothy Hart with Coach Elaine Ramoz

By: Elaine Ramoz, SOLA Coach

Special Olympics athlete, Timothy Hart, who participates in aquatics, athletics, bowling and power lifting, is a 17 year old with Autism.  He started participating in aquatics for Special Olympics when he was eight years old.  He participated in track and field in elementary school, but after being bullied for being “different” his parents chose to place him in home school with one other special needs student.  Here he spends his time with his best friend, Griffin.

Timothy has shown that he has true potential to be an all around athlete, with the drive and determination of an Olympian, he crushes every goal that he sets.

Competing in Special Olympics Louisiana, Timothy has opened up in so many ways.  As his coach for all of these sports, I have seen him grow as an individual.  His “disability” hasn’t slowed him down at all.  He now starts conversations, calls, texts and face times his teammates and coaches.  He is now making friends with people his own age.  The smile on his face is one that will melt anyone’s heart and seeing him being accepted for who he truly is, is a great sight to see.  At competitions, he sits with other athletes, laughs, makes jokes and always has a smile on his face.  Timothy has never been one to be super social, but because of Special Olympics Louisiana, he has transitioned into a new person.  Someone who wants to talk to others.  Someone who is making friends, sets goals and achieves them.  With the love and support of his family, fan club, coaches and teammates, he cannot fail.

For the second year, he has participated in the Northwest Louisiana Summer Swim League with The Swim School.  Being one of the two swimmers in the entire league with special needs, he continues to keep up with the “big boys.”  He has placed in all five meets this season, an accomplishment no one saw coming.  Not only does he keep up with the competition, he has made new friends and has truly come out of his shell.  He has made lifelong friends through the sport of swimming and has influenced his teammates to become Special Olympics volunteers, coaches and even unified partners.  His best friends plan to join him at State Fall Classic in the Unified Relay for Aquatics.  His peers have taken it upon themselves to include him in everything that they do.  A moment that really warms my heart, his parents and the hearts of the entire team.  They have truly accepted the concept of inclusion.

 

This Fall, The Swim School, in partnership with the YMCA of Northwest La, plan on bringing up to 30 aquatics athletes to the 2017 State Fall Classic.  These swimmers will all be school aged.  There will be at least eight coaches, if not more, plus more volunteers and about eight unified partners.  The Northwest Louisiana delegation will grow by at least 50! Keep an eye out for Timothy as he goes for the gold at SFC!

Finish Line

This holiday season we are working with Finish Line to get even more athletes off of the bench & into the game!

For the fifth year in a row, Finish Line will be holding its annual holiday fundraising campaign benefiting Special Olympics from November 17 – December 25, 2016 at over 600 Finish Line stores across the United States. Finish Line is national partner of Special Olympics who provides support for fitness programming and robust volunteer support across the country.

Learn how you can help them too: http://bit.ly/2eGqdlu.

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Today is the day to end the R-Word

2014 StWtEtW with Jed CollinsToday is Spread the Word to End the Word Day! The annual day of awareness to eradicate the use of the R-Word (retard). Across the globe people are posting videos, pictures and blasting on social media why they have taken the pledge. In Louisiana, lots of local celebrities like New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, Tackle Zach Strief and Fullback Jed Collins have already pledged. Have you?  Go to www.r-word.org right now!

Follow the conversation using #Rword, on twitter @EndTheWord, facebook @Spread the Word to End the Word and on YouTube @EndtheRWord

 

Mark your Calendars

 

Social media has shown us that everyday is a National Day for something. Well, our friends over at Friendship Circle Blog have comprised a handy calendar to mark all the Special Needs Awareness days in 2014 sorted by season. Click here to see it (While you are there, check out their other resources and posts. They have great articles for those serving people with special needs.)

 

I am a Person

Spread the Word to End the Word Day was March 6th. Lots of people made videos, posted pictures, wrote stories, etc. to share their opinion and draw awareness that the word “retard” is hurtful. With so much support this was the best R-Word day yet! Check out this video from Marana High School in Arizona. It is a must see!

Spread the Word to End the Word

R-Word“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” – Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics.

March 6th is our Annual Spread the Word to End the Word Day. This is our national day of awareness to eradicate the use of the word “retard” from everyday language. Stand up for dignity and acceptance by taking the pledge! See why you should pledge HERE