Runs in the Family
February 16, 2011
For John and Lisa Aronson, Special Olympics has been a constant. Both avid athletes, they got involved at an early age and met while volunteering. Even after starting a family, they still make time to organize state tournaments and volunteer at the Games-- bringing their three-year-old twins along to cheer
Lisa Aronson, on the far right, is a proud tennis coach and unified partner.
John Aronson first started volunteering for Special Olympics in middle school, more than 30 years ago. Lisa Aronson jokes that her husband has "coached everything at some point." For John, Special Olympics is a family affair, his sister and brother-in-law are also longtime volunteers.
Lisa began volunteering while in high school and over the years has coached tennis, volleyball and softball. After college, Lisa became a special education teacher. She was always interested in education but says it was her involvement with Special Olympics that led her to choose working with students who have special needs.
John Aronson (#13, hitting the ball) played as a unified partner at the most recent U.S. National Games. Volleyball is one of many sports John has coached over the decades.
The couple's paths first crossed while volunteering for Special Olympics. They were seeing a lot of each other at practices and meets and they even coached skiing together. Somewhere along the way, they realized that they had a lot in common and started dating.
The pair shared a belief in the power of Special Olympics to change lives. Lisa explains, "[Special Olympics] is so much more than sports. It is about building confidence, taking away perceptions of a disability and focusing on abilities. Sports transcend into athletes' whole lives, helping them to improve social skills and to create friendships."
The Aronsons’ twins, Delaney and Reagan, now three, often come to cheer for the athletes.
For the Aronsons, there have been many memorable Special Olympics moments over the years. Lisa recalls the joy of watching her tennis team compete with athletes from all over the world, forming friendships that transcended the boundaries of language and ability
Even with young kids, Lisa and John continue to be actively involved with Special Olympics – participating on committees, running the annual state volleyball tournament, volunteering at the winter and summer games, and competing as Unified Partners (teams and competitions that combine Special Olympics athletes and Unified Partners volunteers). To them, Special Olympics is about building a strong community and forming bonds among people. "People become friends. It starts on the playing courts, but then they go out to dinner or movies. Just because someone has a ‘disability’ does not mean they don’t like the same things you do."
This is the message John and Lisa are trying to pass on to their daughters, Delaney and Reagan. The girls are already starting to get involved with Special Olympics, often attending sporting events with mom and dad to cheer on the athletes.
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