Meet Brady Abramson. This 37-year-old has been part of the Special Olympics swim team for five years, and Brady doesn’t just swim. He also competes on the basketball, bowling and softball teams. He’s an athlete with the medals to prove it.
Don’t let his easy, fun-loving personality fool you. He is a hard worker and is serious about his pursuits. Brady has been working part-time for 11 years at a job he loves. He is proud of his independence, and the fact that he drives. When I mentioned his parents must be proud of him, he smiled shyly, and told me they were.
Brady is a fine example of why Special Olympics is so special. In short, it changes lives, and develops self-confidence, while celebrating differences.
The swim team is composed of about 35 athletes who practice at the Cherokee Aquatic Center.
Merry Willis, the head swim coach of Special Olympics Cherokee County, is proud of all of “her” swimmers. She clearly makes this group tick. She explained that all Special Olympians must qualify as having an intellectual disability. Athletes are welcomed beginning at age 8, and there is no maximum age limit. This group ranges from ages 8 to 64.
I was struck by the friendships I witnessed among the athletes. It is apparent that this group thrives with team camaraderie, and also because of the goals they have set to improve their individual skills, while persevering through obstacles. Volunteers work with the athletes on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups.
Why is Brady interested in his Special Olympic sports? When asked, he didn’t hesitate to answer. He said he loves to hang out with all his friends and to socialize at the practices. I can confirm that he likes to talk and laugh. He is an inspiration to this group of fine athletes, as well as anyone who is fortunate to meet him.
Brady and the swim team began practice in February and wrap up this month, with the goal of participating at the Special Olympics Georgia State Games, May 17-19, at Emory University in Atlanta. Brady is excited about the games and his swim relay. We agreed that his team has a good shot at winning the gold.
The Special Olympics oath says it all: Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.
In my book, Brady and all of these athletes certainly are winners. For more information about Special Olympics Georgia, visit www.specialolympicsga.org/about/facts.
– Leigh Cutrone and her husband live in Woodstock. Leigh’s blog, The Senior Class: Navigating the Golden Years, is geared to retired seniors.