Caleb Guy Represents the United States in 2023 Special Olympics World Games
In August 2022, after kayaking for only about a year, Cherokee County native Caleb Guy found out he was going to the 2023 Special Olympics World Games in Germany, where he earned three silver medals in kayaking in June.
Among 7,000 athletes, from around 170 countries, he competed against kayakers from Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland and Lithuania.
The honor means so much to Caleb and his parents, Mollie and Chris Guy, who are educators at Holly Springs STEM Academy. Caleb was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth and has been competing in Special Olympics since he was 8 years old. The world medalist recently celebrated his four-year work anniversary with Chick-fil-A, at the Canton Marketplace location, and he and his family are heavily involved with Cherokee County Special Olympics (CCSO).
It was through CCSO that Caleb was nominated to go to the World Games. When Special Olympics Georgia reached out for nominations, CCSO program co-coordinators Dave Martinez and Amy Aenchbacher wrote recommendations for Caleb. And CCSO Coach Ben Farist, along with Mollie and Chris, were able to show support for him in Berlin, thanks largely to fundraising efforts in our community.
At the World Games, June 17-25, the 20-year-old was one of five kayakers from the United States and the only male Team USA athlete in the kayaking event. Raven Allen of Augusta also represented Georgia, and she was Caleb’s partner in tandem kayaking, in which they secured a silver medal. In addition, Caleb won silver medals in the 200-meter and 500-meter men’s singles kayaking events.
Mollie and Chris always have said Caleb can do anything he sets his mind to, and his accomplishments are even more impressive, considering he has been kayaking for only about two years.
CCSO first launched its kayaking team, Crazy Cayakers, a couple of years ago, and that’s when Caleb’s passion for the sport began. He has competed and earned medals at the state level in basketball, soccer and kayaking, and he’s also been involved with tennis, bowling and track.
Caleb lives in Ball Ground with his parents, and he attends Transition Academy, where he receives vocational training and develops life skills. As for what’s next, Caleb plans to continue kayaking, and he has his sights set on bringing home the gold at the 2027 Special Olympics World Games in Australia.
“I had a great time in Germany with my team and my coaches. I liked making new friends, but my favorite part was the races. I’m really proud of how I did. I’m glad my friends and family got to watch me on Facebook (facebook.com/JCalebGuy). I hope I can do it again!”
“Our experience in Germany gave Caleb the opportunity to demonstrate a level of independence beyond anything he had ever done before. He spent two weeks traveling at the international level. That is quite an accomplishment! It also gave him the chance to really push himself to see what he could accomplish. He was competing against athletes who had earned gold medals at their national games, so he had to work really hard for those silver medals!
“There is nothing like seeing the U.S. delegation in the opening ceremony and thinking, that’s my kid down there! But the moment that really got me the most was when he was on the medal stand for his first silver, and I was telling him how proud I was, and he gave me the little heart symbol with his hands. I just lost it at that point.
“I hope that Caleb’s experience has really brought our local Special Olympics organization to the center of the community’s attention. It is completely a volunteer organization and doesn’t charge athletes to participate. As Chris said, we could not have gone without community support, and Special Olympics can’t provide these opportunities without the community, either.”
— Mollie Guy
“The Special Olympics experience is one of incredible generosity by people all over the world. Our very opportunity in going was only possible due to the generosity of those who provided us with the means to attend. It was such a joy to see Caleb participate and do well in his events. I was so proud of the results of his hard work and perseverance.
“The wonderful thing about the Special Olympics, though, goes beyond just Caleb and his success. Sharing in the joy of people from all around the world as they celebrated the achievements of their special-needs participants was amazing. Seeing the love and enthusiasm demonstrated by so many was heartwarming. In talking to one of the German volunteers after an event, he made the comment, ‘We in Germany often think you in the USA overdo too much, but not this. This you got right. This is worth going all out for because this truly makes a difference. This brings people together in caring about others besides ourselves. The world needs more of this.’”
— Chris Guy