A Swimmer's Quest to Defy Expectations

七月 01, 2011

Melissa Adams glides seamlessly through the water in the preliminary heat of the 50-meter freestyle.  As she nears the halfway point, she ducks her head and cuts a powerful flip turn off of the wall, gliding underwater for several seconds before emerging again with her powerful stroke pulling her toward the finish.  As she touches the wall, her face beams with pride. She has cut nearly a second off her personal best time. 

Swimmer Melissa Adams waves to fans at her first World Games

Melissa, a 28-year-old swimmer from the Matanuska Valley in Alaska, won a bronze medal and other awards at her first World Games.

Melissa, a 28-year-old swimmer from the Matanuska Valley in Alaska, has spent much of 2011 training toward her goal of getting “all golds” at her first World Games. A swimmer from Alaska may seem a bit unusual, but Melissa makes a habit of defying expectations.  Born prematurely at only 26 weeks, Melissa and her twin sister, Mel, were a pound each at birth.  Melissa stayed at the hospital for her first nine months as doctors worked around the clock to allow air to circulate into her underdeveloped lungs.  An accident at the hospital also left her permanently deaf, so today, Melissa signs with her family and friends. Melissa’s airway still remains proportionally very small--her capacity to breathe is equivalent to that of a six-year-old. 

Along with Melissa’s unstoppable determination, she is always looking out for others, including her sister, a Special Olympics athlete who has undergone more than a dozen heart and brain surgeries.   She is the first to provide encouragement and support to her teammates, coaches and family, and her World Games experience has allowed her to make even more friends on Team USA. 

Melissa leads an independent life. She lives alone and is employed by the Home Depot in Wasilla and also works part-time at an organization that organizes recreational activities for people with disabilities.  She has her driver’s license and handles the many months of Alaska winter with ease.  She drives her sister to Special Olympics practices and together they are active in Alaska schools promoting the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.

After graduating from high school, Melissa spent an additional year studying at the Alaska State School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  After the Games, Melissa is ready to continue her education at a college for the hearing impaired across the continent in Washington, D.C. Getting accepted into the competitive program, moving thousands of miles away, and finding a way to pay for her education will be no easy task.  But if we know anything about Melissa, there’s no stopping her.


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