This is the first in what we aim to be an occasional feature called “The You in Unified” where we help our fans get to know our Unified Sports teammates around the world. Todd & Tim Siler from Special Olympics Oregon who are Unified teammates and also brothers and best friends. Let’s meet Todd & Tim! (All photos courtesy Todd Siler)
Special Olympics (SO): Todd, tell us a little bit about you and Tim.
Todd: My brother Tim is my best friend. We have a unique bond that ties us together. I have always been extremely protective of my brother. Being that Tim is my big sibling, he would say the same is true on his end. In high school Tim was a district champion wrestler. Wrestling gave him confidence and a sense of accomplishment. On a social level, Tim played an active role within my circle of friends. The time spent together in our youth was mutually beneficial as it provided him social integration and created maturity and a sense of welcomed responsibility in me.
SO: How did you guys get involved in Special Olympics?
Todd: Four years ago Tim came to me with a request to ignite a powerlifting team. He saw an opportunity to bring the sport to our county and asked me to help get the ball rolling. It sounded like a wonderful idea so we proceeded. The first year roster had only two athletes, my brother and his friend, Andrew. Fortunately, Tim is an incredible ambassador for the sport and a social butterfly as he recruited more and more athletes in the years to follow. We begin our fourth year of powerlifting this January and are expecting over a dozen athletes to accompany this season. Being familiar with the inside of a weight room, Tim doubles as an athlete and as an assistant coach in many ways. By setting the example, he has inspired several peers to begin exercising regularly and create positive nutritional habits.
Last year, Special Olympics Oregon presented Tim with an opportunity to travel across the country and compete in an international meet alongside athletes from countries all over the world. It was one of the most memorable and inspirational experiences we’ve shared together as brothers.
Tim: I live in my own apartment with my Boston terrier, Samson. My apartment is a part of a complex for adults with developmental delays. I began making friends with others that are veteran athletes of Special Olympics that live in the complex. They encouraged me to compete.
SO: Tell us about your friends.
Tim: It’s a motley crew of guys and gals like the breakfast club. Everyone plays a role and there’s never a dull moment. We all mesh in different ways. It’s fun making new friends and it’s fun reminiscing on past experiences with old friends.
SO: Tim, what do you like about Special Olympics and how is it having your brother as a coach?
Tim: Special Olympics has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people from different places. I enjoy competing in different sports throughout the year. It gives me a good excuse to stay in shape and try new things. I enjoy having him as a coach for powerlifting because he knows how to keep my eye on the prize.
SO: Todd, how has working with Special Olympics affected you as a person?
Todd: My relationship with Special Olympics began as a way to spend time with my brother. I didn’t realize when I made a commitment four years ago that it would play such an impactful role in my life.
SO: Tim, have you learned any skills from Special Olympics that have helped you in life, like with your job, or living on your own?
Tim: I come from a family of athletes and am very competitive. I want to be the best in everything I do. Special Olympics taught me about sportsmanship. For one, I have learned how to handle defeat like a man. If I do not get gold in an event, I need to be supportive of whoever does and focus on the good. Special Olympics helped me focus more on my outlook and worry less about the outcome.
SO: Todd, tell us about something that Tim does to keep you in check as the younger brother.
Todd: Last summer Tim began his own pressure washing company with the help of our father. Through word of mouth marketing and quality work Tim has created quite a name for himself within the community. Often times we will be out to eat together and when I reach for the check, Tim will beat me to it and say “It’s big brothers turn to buy.” I fight back tears when I see how proud he is to take care of me.
SO: Let’s get down to business and talk sports. What’s it like to compete together in Unified Sports?
Tim: Golfing with my brother is fun. He wasn’t very good when we started but has come a long way. I’m very proud of him and his accomplishments. I give him pointers on his swing and he gives me pointers on lifting and helps me with my diet. Todd is a strong swimmer and I don’t get as nervous when he is in the pool with me. I know that he will not let me get hurt so that frees me up to focus on getting better.
Todd: Year one of Unified golf marked my first experience on the links and provided quite the challenge. As a two-year veteran to the sport my brother made sure to provide constant support and affirmation. One time I sliced a ball far into the woods and my frustration was noticeable. Tim walked up and handed me a putter. He said that he has shots like that all the time and that he’d put it on the green for me. Playful banter like that came in abundance all season long. An activity where Tim played the mentoring role was uplifting for both of us.
SO: Tim, what makes you such a successful weightlifter?
Tim: I’ve always been strong. It was my greatest tool in wrestling. I like being able to lift a lot of weight because it tells people that just because someone is small, doesn’t mean they’re not capable of big things. Big things come in small packages. It’s fun to see the reactions on people’s faces after I bench with the big boys. I also try to help out at practice by un-racking weights after practice and assist guys with their form when they ask for advice. My brother and I started a program and I feel it’s our responsibility to make it the best program it can be.
SO: Todd, How have you seen your brother grow since he has been involved with Special Olympics?
Todd: I have seen him overcome obstacles that I thought were out of reach. He constantly finds ways to exceed expectations. Swimming has never been Tim’s strength. He didn’t take to it in our childhood and has struggled with it as an adult. Two years ago he decided to participate in swimming for Special Olympics. This came as a shock to our entire family. Year one was challenging. He struggled and required constant attention from the coaches, staying out of the deep end at all cost. There was one time he came home after practice and actually said “I sink because I have too much muscle”. Last year he asked me to join him in the water. We practiced in the shallow end together. He would swim and I would walk beside him the entire time. I remember one practice he refused to get out of the pool until he swam 20 lengths by himself. We were in there for a while but he did what he sought out to do. The next week he swam in the deep end.
SO: How would each of you summarize your relationship as Unified teammates and brothers?
Todd: My brother is my inspiration.
Tim: I am glad my brother and I are very close. I know that he is always there for me.
You can learn more about Special Olympics and Unified Sports at http://www.playunified.org