Pushing the Limits

Before Jackie Wittenburg joined Special Olympics, her mom, Kathy, worried.  She wondered how a new group of people would react to her daughter.    

Jackie Wittenburg smiles with her medal

Jackie Wittenburg participates in swimming and bocce, in addition to track and field. She practices twice a week – and has done so well she was tapped as an alternate to the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens.

Jackie has Apert Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that can lead to cognitive, speech and hearing deficits, along with malformations of the head, face and limbs.

Kathy was also worried that Jackie's physical limitations would get in the way of athletic pursuits.  Yet it was exactly those limitations that brought the Wittenburg family to Special Olympics in the first place.  "We were concerned that it would be easy for her to become sedentary, and that would not be a healthy choice," says Kathy. Jackie had undergone leg surgery and needed to get, literally, back on her feet.  "We thought if we could start her off young then this just would become just a part of her life...and since there is no age limit in Special Olympics, it was a good fit."

At 12 years old, Jackie was a little nervous about meeting new people. Even at church, when she was promoted to a new youth group, she was careful to wear gloves and a hat the first day. But her first day at Special Olympics turned out to be an encouraging experience. Mom Kathy says the athletes, coaches and volunteers are "a very supportive, encouraging group and she fit in right away." Once Jackie figured out how the competitions worked, that's when she really started having fun.

Almost immediately, Jackie wanted to push her limits. That's not an easy task for Jackie, since her feet are fused together; she is also missing a big toe.  But to everyone's surprise, track turned out to be Jackie's favorite event.  Her mother says, "I am shocked she can perform as well as she does!  We NEVER tell her she can't do anything.  As far as I'm concerned, she's exceeded the goals we've set so far."

Kathy now knows she shouldn't have worried about her daughter's self-esteem in the face of sports competition.  After winning her first medal, Jackie was just beaming.  "For the first time in her life, my daughter told me she was proud of herself."

Now 15 years old, Jackie participates in swimming and bocce, in addition to track and field. She practices twice a week – and has done so well she was tapped as an alternate to the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens – quite an honor for an athlete her age. To qualify, she had to place well enough in each event, participate in regional and state meets and display good sportsmanship at all times.

Jackie is already looking ahead to her next round of competition – and perhaps even the 2013 World Winter Games. She's also working on improving in her newest sport: equestrian.  Her mom says Jackie's found a real home at Special Olympics.  With the help of her coaches, she will continue working hard to reach her goals in sports and beyond.

 


Your Donation Matters

Special Olympics transforms athletes’ lives through the joy of sport. Help us make a difference.

DONATE TODAY»

Volunteer Near You

Volunteering with Special Olympics is fun and very rewarding, for both the athlete and the volunteer!

LEARN MORE»

Follow Us

帮助我们多援助一名运动员

捐赠 »

在我们的 220 个全球办事处查找当地的活动并了解相关志愿者机会。

查找您附近的地点 »

Videos and Photos

鼓舞人心的年轻人一项以青少年为中心的特奥会项目已在印度启动和运行。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

到达山顶乞力马扎罗山是新加坡特奥运动员的试验场。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

Deon Namiseb他是一位演说家,并且是偶像级人物。 但最初在纳米比亚的日子里,却并非如此。了解详情 »


Videos and Photos

非常特别音乐有助于特奥会在世界范围内发挥影响。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

世界各地特奥会活动和人们的精彩照片。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

变革中的合作伙伴特奥会合作伙伴对我们的工作至关重要。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

夏季体育运动在夏季,我们的运动员可以跑步、跳跃、游泳并获得相应得分。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

体育的力量体育是一种改变运动员生活的强大方式。查看幻灯片 »


Videos and Photos

不同Barry Cairns 说,患有智力障碍的人士如何能够成为运动员。观看视频 »


Special Olympics Blog

Health Needs Need Closer Examination

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."read more »

Posted on 2014-04-07 by Ryan

go to blog »


*

Special Olympics - Become a Fan