Special Olympians Bring Home Gold

Jessica stood tall on the podiums, and for good reason. Dangling from her neck on four different occasions were gold medals – three for skill, one for inspiration – earned during an annual Special Olympics Florida event.

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Bishop Grady Villas’ Residents Bring Home Gold

Jessica stood tall on the podiums, and for good reason. Dangling from her neck on four different occasions were gold medals – three for skill, one for inspiration – earned during an annual Special Olympics Florida event.

“It was all in my head,” Jessica said. “I know everything. It was easy and fun.”

The State Fall Classic of the Florida Special Olympics, held Nov. 4-5, was the ultimate competition and celebration for those who have trained for several months. Jessica was among many residents of Bishop Grady Villas in St. Cloud and others from throughout the Diocese of Orlando, who participated in the games, which attracted more than 1,100 contestants from around.

Jessica excelled in her rhythmic gymnastics events, held at The Jostens Center on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. She took home three gold medals – rhythmic ribbon, rhythmic ball and rhythmic hoop. She has participated in gymnastics for about three years, and has been training for the Special Olympics for about a year.

Additionally, she was bestowed a gold medal for Inspirational Athlete for Osceola County. She said she was proud to win all of her events, but the medal for inspiration meant the most.

“I felt kind of special with that one,” said Jessica, who will compete again in gymnastics next year. “It made me proud.”

Also earning a gold medal in her competition was Laura in singles bowling. Laura garnered a combined score of 109 between her two games. Greg B. finished third in another singles bowling division, with a combined score of 189.

Bishop Grady Villas residents participate in the annual Special Olympics Florida events each year, but these games represent only a partial sports and exercise schedule for many residents. Bishop Grady Villas offers weight training, swimming, bike riding, basketball and jogging, and many athletes trained and completed their first 5K run at Walt Disney World this past year. Two runners are training for a half marathon, which consists of 13.1 miles. Residents train for winter sports such as basketball and spring sports such as tennis and track and field.

“The residents did a great job in the Special Olympics,” said David Schumacher, assistant residential programs manager. “They are dedicated to doing their best, making friendships, and staying fit, not just in the games, but in everyday life. Their sportsmanship is a high priority, and they thrive on being good sports.”

Annunciation Parishioner Takes Top Honors at Special Olympics

Another Special Olympics participant who earned a gold medal is Chris, a member of Annunciation Parish in Altamonte Springs. He took the top honors in power lifting. Chris has competed in the Special Olympics for 11 years, starting his career in track and field after a co-worker encouraged him to start running. In addition to sports, Chris is active at Annunciation in a variety of ways. He serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, teaches faith formation and is a member of the core team that works with teens and young adults.

Chris’ faith allows him to “share the gospel with other participants and encourage those who have an outside perspective about how we should treat our brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said.

Photo Courtesy of Art Homs of Annunciation