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!