How Competing in the Special Olympics Made Me a Better Me


1779351_10153811106070401_1618578817_n-1

Imagine a world where you don’t have friends, where you feel judged and feel like an outsider. Well, that’s not me, but it was for many of my friends before Special Olympics.

When I started with Special Olympics 13 years ago, I was shy, but Special Olympics helped me overcome this. By attending summer games I learned to sleep away from home and to get along with everyone.

Special Olympics is so much more than just playing sports. It gives us a safe place to try new things, a place to socialize, a place to compete and a place to grow outside of sports. It enriches lives and promotes change for both people with special needs and perceptions of people with special needs.

Special Olympics gives us a can-do environment. It has taught me to try my best. I compete in basketball and swimming and play tennis. I learned that practice makes better.

IMG_4537

Sports brings out discipline, how to win and lose, and teamwork. To us, it’s a family.

The Special Olympic motto is, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” To me, this carries on in my personal life. Special Olympics has given me the confidence that I can succeed.

I have done a lot of things. I earned my high school diploma. I also graduated from UCLA’s Pathway’s Generation Next program where I lived in an apartment, took classes and completed three internships. I earned the Gold Award in Girl Scouts and got to be a float rider in the Pasadena Rose Parade. I received the SunDown Voice award for achievements and volunteerism. Next month, I will complete my one-year internship at UCLA Ronald Reagan Hospital. My ultimate goal is to be an actress. I have already been in print, on radio, TV and in a full feature film.

DSCN6327_3 (1)
Caley with Special Olympics President & CEO, Patrick McClenahan

With the support of Special Olympics, new doors open. Being a Global messenger shows me I can be successful in life. I enjoy being able to share my voice in the community and meeting people. I love getting more people excited about participating in Special Olympics as athletes, volunteers and sponsors. Participating makes me feel proud and makes my family proud of me. It gives me things to look forward to.

It has provided me growth, confidence and friendships. My family used to wonder what my life would be like. Now, my sister says, “If anyone can say they live their life like Caley, they can truly say they live a full life.” In speaking on behalf of my fellow athletes and myself, we appreciate you supporting Special Olympics. Through your support the world will be a better place by improving the lives of athletes and increasing acceptance of people with disabilities.

During the World Cup, the country chanted, “I believe that we can win.” With all your support for our athletes, we can use that same chant. “I believe that we will win!”

My philosophy is, “Never give up and dream big.” Special Olympics makes me a better me, and it can make you a better you.

Unknown

***

One year from today, 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 177 countries will parade into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Los Angeles 2015. This ceremony will kick-off a nine day celebration of courage, determination and joy as well as the largest sports and humanitarian event in 2015 and the largest event in Los Angeles since the ’84 Olympics.

Join in the One Year Away Celebration by spreading the word that the world is coming.

***

Live Mighty. Like us on Facebook.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.