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Garrie Barnes with her medals.

At a recent Special Olympics staff meeting, a Special Olympics Maryland athlete (and employee at the Special Olympics headquarters in DC), had the opportunity to share with staff how her life has been impacted by Special Olympics. Her story was one of amazing success and inspiration.

Please take a moment to read “What Special Olympics Means to Me” by Garrie Barnes.

What Special Olympics Means to Me
By Garrie Barnes
My mom says that, when she thinks back to when I was little, she never would have thought that I would be able to take the Metro downtown and work all day at a job I love. Thank you Special Olympics for all that you have done for me:

  • Thank you for the CONFIDENCE I have gained in life. By training and competing in swimming, skiing, bowling, track and field, cross country and tennis, I learned that I could do anything. I had a hard time in school and before Special Olympics, I felt like a loser.
  • Thank you for giving me a VOICE. Because of the ALPS program, I was able to give a speech about Healthy Athletes to a class of nurses at Catholic University.
  • Thank you for giving me a COMMUNITY. In bowling and track and field, especially, I have felt part of a large family. One of my favorite memories is helping a friend in a wheelchair bowl a winning game at state games – with all of our families and friends cheering her on.
  • Thank you for giving me PEOPLE TO LOOK UP TO – here at the office and in the Montgomery County program. Bob Stack in athletics, Jeanne and Ben Ackerman in skiing, and Lee Abigail and his assistant coaches in bowling have been wonderful examples of the best in coaching – encouraging me, teaching me and expecting the most from me. And inspiring me to want to give back.
  • Thank you for the AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES I have had: going to Shanghai for the Invitational Games and participating in Hill Day have been growing times for me.
  • Thank you for bringing pleasure and pride to my FAMILY, who all are excited about Special Olympics. My grandmother was known to start the wave each Saturday at bowling!
  • Thank you, MRS SHRIVER, for giving us the Special Olympics oath. It has served me well in all sorts of situations. This fall, I had practiced for many weeks in preparation for an audition for the Gaithersburg Artstream company. On the way to the audition, I discovered that I had grabbed the wrong CD. There was no time to turn back. As I got out of the car, I said to my mom, “I will be brave in the attempt.” And it went well.

Thank you all for everything!

2 thoughts on “‘What Special Olympics Means to Me’

  1. So very true for all Special Olympians. I am an athlete in Ohio, participating in track & field and soccer. I also bowl with another special needs organization. My Special Olympics experience began as an ice skater (figure skating) in 1994 at the age of 15. At 34, I have spent the past decade working on a poetry book for and about people with various disabilities. Most of these are part of my Special Poetry for Special People collection on voicesnet.com. A few have also been seen and/or heard on or at other sites and organizations. Two of these have been used by The Center for Learning in Westlake, Ohio. They are a curriculum company and used my poems as analysis worksheets for Honors students. Thank you Garrie Barnes for sharing your story with your fellow Special Olympians throughout the United States of America and around the globe. Deanna C. Dilley

  2. WHAT A GREAT STORY, AS SOMEONE MYSELF WHO HAS BEEN A LONGTIME SUPPORTER OF SPECIAL OLYMPICS I FOUND GARRIE’S STORY VERY TOUCHING CONFIDENCE,VOICE, COMMUNITY, PEOPLE TO LOOK UP TO, AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES, FAMILY, MRS. SHRIVER ARE ALL TERRIFIC WAYS TO SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH ALL OF US – IF I MAY SAY YOUR SPECIAL OLYMPICS FAMILY THANK YOU ANDREW

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