Hello I’m Crystal Williams! Thank you for taking the time to check out my website. I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself & why I decided to become a blogger. First off I’m a person with a disability. I have a rare Syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. It’s not as popular as autism or down syndrome. Most times when someone comes up to me & they don’t know me or do know but don’t know that I do have a disability it’s because you can not tell that I have one, part of my syndrome is that I have a hearing loss. I used to have a hole in my lip when I was born & that was called a cleft lip I no longer have that thanks to all of the surgeries that I had as a child. I also used to have very poor balance but thanks to therapeutic horseback riding I can now walk normally. I still do horseback riding today & I’m happy to say that I no longer need therapeutic lessons. Being a person with a disability doesn’t stop me from doing the stuff that I love, it just means that I have to work just that much harder than anyone else.
Now why did I want to become a blogger. I’ve always loved to write. Writing has always been a huge passion of mine. It has always been my way of expressing my feelings & it’s also been an escape for me. Now I want to be able to share my story with others & hopefully educate others. Being a disability advocate not only for myself but also for others who are not able to share their own voice is very important to me because I want to be able to educate others to understand & not be afraid to ask questions & want to get to know us better. I’m also a big advocate for mental health. I struggle with Depression & I want to be able to help others to come forward to share their story as well & know that they are not alone on their journey. We are all in this fight together.
Other things that you may not know about me. I’m a huge animal lover especially horses, dogs & cats. I love doing horseback riding. I love to travel. I married my best friend & the love of my life. We adopted a cat named Buttons. I love doing photography in my spare time.
I hope that everyone had a good week and a good day. Normally I write my blog posts earlier in the day, but I got a little bit side tracked today. So I’m writing my post right now. Today on my blog I’m doing an other featured story/ interview with Hanna Atkinson. She is a Special Olympics Athlete from Colorado. I met Hanna last year when my husband and I went to Abu Dhabi to attend the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Thank you Hanna for letting me interview you. I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Hanna below.
How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?
My parents found Special Olympics for me because it is the place where I can be myself. I started immediately with the Special Olympics Colorado Ski racing team. After Skiing as one of the sports that I do for Special Olympic Colorado is bike racing.
How long have you been a part of the Special Olympics?
I Started with the Special Olympics at the age of 13 and it is now 12 years that I am involved with Special Olympics. It is my forever home in the Special Olympics. I appreciate the leadership and the community that Special Olympics expanded on and I really want to credit the founder of Special Olympics Eunice Kenndy Shriver.
What sports do you do?
Now the sports that I do now are Ski Racing and Biking Racing for Special Olympics. In the past I used to compete in Special Olympics Swimming and in the past I also did Unified Basketball in my high School which the basketball ended in 2014. I will forever be a swimmer because my siblings were swimmers too.
Favourite place or places you have got to travel for the Special Olympics?
My favourite place was going to Washington DC to be trained as a Health Messenger and trained as a Sargent Shriver international Global Messenger, and I went to Capitol hill day in Washington DC. I testified in front of the congress here in Colorado. I did go to Minnesota for the Special Olympic North America conference, I did already go to Paris France to speak as an panellist on the discussion on Inclusion, I did go to Atlanta Georgia to see the headquarters of the sponsor of Coke Cola for Special Olympics, I also went to Tulsa Oklahoma to do a commercial for Special Olympics. Overall the best ever place is Abu Dhabi because they called us Meet the Determined people and it was the place that I got the chance to cheer on so many Special Olympics athletes in Abu Dhabi. I even cheered for Mathew Williams at the tennis venue and he is amazing tennis player
What is your favorite experience and or proudest moment as an IGM?
My favourite experience as an IGM is to spread the inclusion Revolution message and make friends for life with Apolo Ohno, Hannah Teter, and Daina Shilts. Hannah Teter and I are still friends before I became an IGM because I interviewed Hannah Teter here at Aspen Colorado at the X Games where Hannah Teter competed before Hannah Teter took me by surprise when I saw her in Abu Dhabi. That was an amazing experience in Abu Dhabi and that I was interviewed in the Abu Dhabi Daily show and my interviewer was Daniel Smrokowski. It was a dream come true when I met Maria Shriver. One of my proudest moments was to be selected as an IGM and meet other IGMS.
For people who don’t know a lot about the Special Olympics and want to know more about it?
What would you like them to know? The Special Olympics is a place of acceptance, friendship, inclusion and joy. You can be a coach, you can donate, you can join the Inclusion Revolution , you can be a sponsor, you can be volunteer and you get the chance to talk with athletes from all over the world. The Special Olympics welcomes all of you and in the wise words of Eunice Kenndy Shriver, “Let me win,If i cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt.” It is more than a sports organization. It is a movement.
Why do you think it’s important for Special Olympics athletes leaders to be involved and have a voice in the movement?
It is important to hear from athlete leaders because every voice counts in the Special Olympics. The more leadership opportunities the more impactful the message will be. This world will be a better place when all people can be heard and valued. Special Olympics transforms athletes all across the world with its platform of positivity and empowerment. Allof this being said is also part of being accepted in the world. I am an athlete leader, I am honored that I can represent my fellow athlete leaders.
Well that’s all for today. I hope that you enjoyed reading today’s blog post about Hanna interview that I did with her. Big shout out again to Hanna thank you for doing this interview with me. I hope that we can do more together in the future to make a difference for Special Olympics and for other people in our communities with disabilities.
Happy Friday & Happy May. It’s a brand new month. Wow time is sure flying by these days. Today on my blog I’m doing a special post because I love the month of May. Why do I love the month of may you ask? May happens to be my birthday month. This year for my birthday I decided a few months back that this year instead of receiving gifts for my birthday I would love if people could help me by sending donations to my favourite place which is Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association. It has a very special place in my heart because I have been riding there when I was three & half years old. It has been apart of my life for twenty five years. When I first started horseback riding there it was to help me with my core & balance. Now I’m able to ride on my own which means everything to me. For me I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Valley Therapeutic. I love being able to give back to them by volunteering my time helping in the arena with lessons for other people with disabilities & also I got in the barn to help out with whatever needs to be done whether it’s cleaning stalls or helping tacking the horses for the lessons. Not only is Valley my happy place but it’s also my home away from home. I look forward to going once a week for my lessons and also being able to volunteer. Right now I really miss being able to go horseback riding but also seeing all the amazing people that are there.So if you could help me by making a donation to this amazing place not only will it make my day, it will also help many other individuals with disabilities. If you would like to know more about how you can help this amazing organization To learn more about valley you can check them out on Facebook & instagram. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog today. I hope that everyone has a good rest of your day and please stay safe.
I hope that everyone is having a good week and is staying safe. Today on my blog, I’m doing another feature story/ interview with another Special Olympics Athlete Renee Manfredi. I met Renee last year in Abu Dhabi when my husband and I got to go attead the Special Olympics Summer World Games. I just want to take a moment to thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me and I hope that we can do more things together in the future. I’m really excited to share this interview with all of you. I hope that you enjoy reading it!
How did you get involved with Special Olympics?
After High School, there were not very many options for me in my state as far as job training, support, or post- secondary education. Every agency said I didn’t qualify for their services. We are military and thought we might be moving soon, so we looked for other options, of activities I could join in, until we moved. Special Olympics was the only thing we found that I could join that I qualified for as a person with ID. When I got involved in Special Olympics, I was very nervous about how I would be treated on a team, because I’m not very good at sports and any time I would mess up during P.E. in school, my fellow classmates would yell at me. But when my team, the Terminators, were so welcoming, I was like, “Wow! This is where I belong.” No one yelled at or scolded me when I made a mistake. My coaches were very encouraging and showed me what I was supposed to do. It made all the difference in the world. Special Olympics is an open door for me in so many ways.
How long have you been apart of Special Olympics?
I have been a part of Special Olympics for 12 years
What sports do you do?
Basketball, Softball, Swimming, and Soccer
Favourite place or places you have got to travel for Special Olympics?
I would say that my most favorite place to have traveled to for with Special Olympics is Abu Dhabi for the 2019 World Summer Games. I have never been to the World Games before, but I have lived in the Middle East. I lived in the Kingdom of Bahrain for four and a half years. It was such an amazing experience that going to Abu Dhabi was like going back home, and of course, going there for the World Summer Games was a very special opportunity that I will always treasure. It was so wonderful to see all the world come together for one common goal: To participate in sports.
What is your favorite experience and or proudest moment as an IGM?
My proudest moment was being selected as an SSIGM. I just could not believe that I had been chosen for such an honor. To be able to be a voice for Special Olympics on the world stage is very humbling. This is such an exciting experience for me and my family. My favorite experience might be getting to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. I was super scared to go out there in front of thousands of people but really excited to show the world that I am not just a person with a disability, I am a person with ability. We all are. Given the right opportunity the world can see we have gifts just waiting to be discovered and shared.
For people who don’t know a lot about Special Olympics and want to know more about it. What would you like them to know?
I would want them to know that Special Olympics is not ONLY a year-round sports organization for children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities but an organization that has opportunities for the whole person. There are programs in Special Olympics for public speaking, athlete leadership, athlete health initiatives, community engagement and friendships.These opportunities are right inside the door. I would want them to know that Special Olympics takes people like me, who have been on the sidelines of life, and puts them on the playing field of life by looking at what a person CAN do, not at what they cannot do. When you begin to focus on a person’s abilities, that’s when they really shine!
Why do you think it’s important for Special Olympics athletes leaders to be involved and have a voice in the movement?
The most important thing is to be seen and heard. I think it is important for Athlete Leaders to be directly involved because if we are not directly involved, it’s easy to think we don’t care or things do not matter to us, when that is not the case. We are people WITH ideas and opinions that matters. If we are all working together we will accomplish so much more. United we stand, Divided we fall. It’s important for everyone to be an active member of their community and have a voice in the movement because we want the world to see that we are not just people with ID.
What are your future goals as a Special Olympics Athlete and as a IGM?
My future goals as an athlete are to continue to compete for however long I am able. I want to be in the best physical condition I can be and I hope to be an example to others that there is no limit! My future goals as an SSIGM are to change the world’s views and perspectives, in a world that is not always understanding of people with ID, not to see our limitations but that there are no limits to what can be accomplished when we all work together. My hope is that everyone in the world will see us as community members, coworkers, neighbours, and friends. We all have something to contribute and Special Olympics provides all of us with the opportunity to let our abilities shine.
Here’s the link to Renee sent me to share it’s a video and a interview with Bank of America. She got to sing the national Anthem at a Red Sox game! How awesome is that! I really encourage you to check it out!
Well that’s all for this blog post today! I hope that you enjoyed reading about Renee’s story. A big shout out and a huge thank you to Renee again for letting me share her story with all of you! I hope that we can do more things like this together to make a difference and get the word out there to people. I also want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read my blog. It means the world to me. Enjoy the rest of your day and have a wonderful weekend!
Happy Friday. Hope that everyone is doing well & enjoying the week. Today on my blog I’m going to do a story/ interview that I did with a friend and fellow Special Olympics Athlete Daniel Smrokowski. If you rememberer awhile back I did a blog post about being apart of his podcast show with my husband Matthew. I thought it would be nice to return the favour and feature his story on my blog. I really recommend checking out his podcast show if you already haven’t done that yet it’s called Special Chronicles. You can listen to it anywhere on podcast apps and even online. I got to chat with Daniel about a week ago on a video call. I’m sure you’re all wondering how Daniel and I met. I met Daniel last march when Matthew and I went to Abu Dhabi to attend as guests for the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Daniel is an athlete for Special Olympics Illinois. He joined Special Olympics in 2005. The sports that he does currently are Swimming and Basketball. Daniel would love to do unified golf for next season. Daniel recently had a swim meet and won two gold medals for his swimming reign qualifier next up for him will be state games in June of this year.In 2009 Daniel became an athlete leader for his local program by taking an athlete leadership training course. While doing the training course Daniel met his long time girlfriend Georgia. They Have been together for five years.As an athlete leader he has done local speeches to local schools and local organizations throughout his Community. Daniel started a college radio show to interview people and also started to share his story. Five months before he started podcasting he started listening to other different podcasts. He decided to try things for podcasting by recording stuff & doing different tests for podcast. Daniel’s podcast show Special Chronicles has been running for eleven years and it’s a non profit organization. Now his show has become a platform Network not only for podcasting but also a digital network for audio, video show and blogs.If you would like to know more about podcasting Daniel has created a video with all the information that you need in a video that will be posted on Special Olympics International’s website at the end of this month. To check that out you can go to specialolympics.org
Daniel Has got to interview lots of different people on his podcast. So I wanted to ask him more about that. One of his favourite interviews that he has done was with Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics. He has also told me that he would love to interview Robin Roberts from Good Morning America and she happens to be a big supporter for Special Olympics. Another person he would love to interview now is a Special Olympics Athlete, friend and a Special Olympics International Bored Member Loretta Claiborne. His dream interview person if they were still alive would be Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the founder of the Special Olympics
Daniel is a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. For the next four years he will travel around the world sharing the positive impact Special Olympics has had on his life and other people with disabilities.Last year as a Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger he attend the summer world games in Abu Dhabi and spoke at different events throughout the week.
For those of you that don’t know much about Special Olympics and would like to know more information about it. This is what Daniel would like you to know. When you come to any of our events they are fun. We compete at a high level and we also train like other people who don’t have disabilities It’s fun and everyone is included inside and outside of our Community.This movement has connected all of us together and has helped us meet new people.
I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend. Today on my blog I’m doing a very special blog post on our cat Buttons. Now most of you see lots of photos of her on my instagram and Facebook page. Today happens to be her adoption anniversary. I wasn’t able to do anything last year on my blog because Matthew and I were away this times last year. Anyways so it’s been two amazing years since we brought our special little girl home with us. When we brought her home two years ago she was only ten months old and she was so scared. When we went to go pick her up from The Cat Therapy & Rescue Society they had told us that she had lost her mother when she was either two or three days old, so they had to bottle feed her and her siblings. They had also told us the bottle fed babies are usually the best ones to adopt because they are used to being held and being around people. When we brought Buttons she was so shy and scared that she didn’t want anything to do with us for the first couple of days and then she finally came out of her shell.
Now fast forward to now she loves to play fetch, loves to cuddle and she is also very loving as well. Buttons loves her treats and is also very food motived. Buttons has completely changed our life for the better. I know for me it was very important that I have an animal around because I suffer with depression and she has helped me while I really struggle through the winter months or even if I’m just having a bad day just getting to cuddle with her makes it that much better. She has also made it better when ever Matthew goes away on a trip without me because that’s when I would get very lonely and my depression would make it worse for me. Now whenever Matthew is away on trips I have my little girl to keep me company.
Matthew can’t imagine our life without her. Adopting Buttons was one of the best decisions that we have ever made besides getting married. Getting to give an animal a home that needs a home is so rewarding. Not only did we rescue Buttons she rescued us. I would tell anyone who wants to get their own pet to rescue instead of buying from a breeder. Not only are you saving an animal life by adopting but you’re also helping the shelters that are in need that might be full. If you can’t adopt but you really want to help your local shelter I would say to donate to them or go and volunteer.
Well that’s all for today’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed reading it today. I also want to thank you for taking time out of your day to read my blog. I hope that everyone has a good day and enjoys the rest of the weekend!
Hello, everyone Happy Wednesday and Happy March! Today on my blog I want to talk about a campaign that is really important to me and many others who have disabilities. Today is the Annual Spread The Word Inclusion Day campaign. Now this campaign started back in 2009 as Spread The Word To End The Word. Last year they changed it to be Spread The Word Inclusion instead which I think is wonderful. This campaign is a huge part of Special Olympics world wide. I truly think that everyone should be included no matter what, weather it’s in a school, work place, sports or etc. Nobody should ever have to feel excluded. Everyone has the right to belong and feel included weather you have a disability or not. I truly feel that this campaign can make a difference for everyone. All I want to do is educate people to learn more about this campaign but also make a difference for others who are like me with disabilities. There’s a lot of other people with disabilities who can’t use their own voice, so I want to encourage everyone to go check out the website to sign the pledge and also educate yourself. Please also share it with your family and friends. We want to make sure that we continue spreading the word out because let’s face it everyone deserves to belong and feel included no matter what. I will put the website link below so that you can go check it out. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post for today. I hope that everyone is having a great week and enjoy the rest of your day!
Happy Saturday. I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend. Today on my blog I’m finally going to go into details about my trip that I was on a month ago! Crazy to think it’s already February. So anyways getting back to my post for today. Last month I went away on a cruise with my family we did the Panama cruise that also went to Costa Rica & the Caribbean. We flew out from Vancouver BC to Fort Lauderdale Florida and got on our cruise. We took Princess Cruises and we were on the Caribbean Princess ship. The cruise was 10 days round trip from Fort Lauderdale Florida. It sure was really nice to get away right at the beginning of the month after Christmas and New Years. The weather on the cruise was great the whole time sunny and warm.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
So our first stop on our cruise was Montego Bay Jamaica. Our excursion in Jamaica was Dunn’s River Fall and Dolphin Cove. So first off we got to go swimming and climbing through these beautiful Falls which was awesome and so much fun. I thought for sure the water was going to be very cold but it was actually warm and refreshing. Then after going through the falls we took a short bus ride to Dolphin Cove where they had dolphins, Sharks and stingrays. I was really excited because I’ve always wanted to go swimming with dolphins. So we got to Dolphin Cove where they provided lunch for us first. Then after lunch our tour guide told Matthew that if he wanted to get in the water with the Sand shark he could and so I encouraged him to do it because sharks are my husband’s favourite animal. So I got to was him swim and hold the shark before we went over to the other pool with the dolphins. We each got to have two rides on the dolphins which was absolutely incredible. Then we also got to play and interact with them as well. It was definitely a dream come true of mine.
Our next stop on the cruise was Cartagena, Colombia. We got off the boat and did the hop on hop off bus tour excursion which was great. The city was beautiful all the buildings were very colourful and had a Spanish vibe was was neat. One of my favourite stops on the tour was getting to do the walking tour through town square. It was absolutely beautiful. As we were doing the walking tour I got very excited seeing a horse carriage go by with this beautiful horse I really wish that it would stop but unfortunately it had people in the carriage going for a ride. Once the walking tour was done we went back on the hop on hop off bus. Got to see a little more of the city then later both Matthew and I wanted to get back on the boat. So My father In Law and Matthew’s Uncle wanted to stay out a bit longer which was fine with both of us. Once Matthew and I got off the bus then we started walking back towards the boat and they had birds and some different monkeys climbing around. We got to see three monkeys up close in the trees which I thought was cool after all I really like monkeys I think they are cool animals that you don’t get to see very often.
Panama Canal, Cristobal Panama
For Panama both Matthew and I stayed on the boat while my Father In Law and Matthew’s uncle got off the boat and did a day tour through Panama. While we stayed on the ship and watched the ship go through the Panama Canal and the locks. They had someone on the speaker telling about the locks and the canal which we both found very interesting.
Limón, Costa Rica
We all got off the boat together and went and walked around Limon , Costa Rica. Unfortunately there wasn’t to much around to see but we went close to the water and walked around town for a little bit and then got back on the ship.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Island
For our last stop before heading home was Grand Cayman we were all supposed to go swimming with the stingrays but unfortunately they had to cancel the excursion because the water was to rough and I guess it wasn’t going to be safe which was sad because that’s the excursion that Matthew really wanted to do. So instead we just went through the town and found a beach to go swimming in and then walked around the town before heading back on the ship.
Then we got back into Fort Lauderdale, Florida and flew home from there.Over all it was a great vacation. We all got lots of rest and relaxation. I read lots of books while we were on the ship. We all went swimming in the pools a few times. I went to the spa a couple of times. We went for dinner to the specialty restaurant and also in the dinning room. The food and drinks were all great. Anyways I hope you enjoyed reading this post for today. I will post a bunch of the photos from the trip below. Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend.
Happy Wednesday. Today is a very important day because here in Canada we have a great cause for mental health called Bell Let’s Talk. It’s to help anyone who is struggling with any kind of mental illness. For me I have been struggling with depression for ten years and it has really made a difference in my life because I’m able to share my feelings with my loved ones and I have an incredible support system. Over the last couple of years I have found that the more I talk about my struggles with others who are dealing with the same thing it’s seems to be more helpful and it also feels like weight lifted off of my shoulders. Before I would feel like I wasn’t able to share my feelings about my depression because I was sacred. embarrassed, I felt alone and I also felt like I was not worthy. Now I feel like I’m on a mission to help others by putting myself out there to be an advocate for mental health. If you know someone that you love who is going through mental illness please just remember to be patient with them and just be there for them weather it’s just giving them a hug or just sitting with them and listening. Sometimes it could also just be telling them that things are going to be okay and that you’re there for them as well. I still have my good and bad days but from what I have learned is just take one day at a time and do the things that make me happy. Sometimes when I’m having a rough day and my depression gets the better of me, I have to really push myself to get through the day and remind myself that I’m worthy, I’m strong and that I deserve to be happy. I hope that by me sharing about my mental illness will help someone else who needs it. Just remember that you are never alone. We need to keep talking about mental health everyday. Let’s keep the conversation going! #bellletstalk
Good Afternoon Happy 2020! Sorry I’m a little late writing my New Years post. Better late than never right? Well my husband and I were away on vacation at the beginning of the month and we got back at the beginning of this week. Anyways I will post about our vacation in my next blog next week. This week I just wanted to jump on and do my New Years post. Wow it’s already the middle of January where has the time gone so far for this month. This year I’m planning on doing some bigger changes to my blog that I’m really excited about. For 2020 I’m planning on doing moreblog posts each month not only about my life, travel, mental health and being a disability advocate. This year I’m going to be doing interviews posts from people that are making a difference in the world not only for individuals with disabilities but others as well who have a story to tell and that I think is important to share for others. I hope that you are excited to see where I’m going this with this for 2020. I feel that because I have a voice I want to be able to help others share theirs as well. So please stay tuned for theses changes that are coming for this year. I hope that you have had a great new years and are starting the year off to a good start. Well that’s all for now. Stay tunedfor next week’s blog post about my vacation but until then. I hope that everyone has a wonderful rest of their day and a great weekend!!
Hello everyone! Happy Sunday, Christmas is almost here. Where did this year go. Today on my blog I thought I would post about all the great things that has happened this year for me and my husband.
Not too much happened at the beginning of this year. We celebrated my husband’s birthday. We took a quick trip to the island to help honour Kim Samuel one of our friends who received an award at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo BC. We got to go to the Special Olympics Summer World Games in Abu Dhabi as guests. We celebrated Buttons first adoption anniversary with us. I got to do a demo ride for my riding stable Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association at Thunderbird show park. We took a cruise to Alaska for a week. Then celebrated my birthday. I got to go to a concert with one of my girlfriends to see one of my favourite female Country artists Carrie Underwood at Rogers arena. We took an other quick trip to the island to visit Matthew’s family in Sydney BC. I went to Merritt BC to visit my grandparents for a weekend away. We went up to Osoyoos BC to visit more of Matthew’s family. I completed my summer goal to do the Grouse Grind. We got invited to go Georgia Atlanta to visit people we know who work for Special Olympics Georgia. Matthew got to speak to their staff members about his Experiences with Special Olympics. We both got to take part in a podcast with a fellow Special Olympics athlete. If you’re interested his podcast is called Special Chronicles. We celebrated our 1st Wedding Anniversary. We went back up to Osoyoos BC for a family wedding. We went to Toronto for a symposium hosted by our friend Kim Samuel for social connectedness and a right to belong. We also went to Washington DC.
Overall this year was full of lots of travel. Lots of new experiences. One of my favourite things about this year was getting to spend lots of time with my family and my amazing friends. I hope that everyone also had a great year as well. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Sending everyone lots of joy and happiness going into 2020. Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. Here’s a few of my favourite pictures from this year.