Crystal M Williams

Disability Advocate, Writer, Blogger, Kabuki Syndrome

Feature Story: Special Olympics Athlete.

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Hello Everyone, Happy Friday!

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.

Renee Manfredi

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!


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