Lin Kornhauser's story is one of transformation and perseverance. She was born with very weak muscles, a baby too weak to even raise her head. Doctors did not think Lin would ever walk. Today, she participates in four sports, loves training, and has a life her parents could only dream of for her.
Lin's mother, Tali Kornhauser, does not sugarcoat any of her emotions, describing "mourning" and not knowing what to do when she first learned about her daughter's special needs. She worried about people talking and the toll on the family. When a friend told her about Special Olympics, she decided to give it a try and brought her daughter in.
Lin's journey was not easy from the beginning. Her first sport was swimming, and though now Lin swims "like a dolphin," she was initially resistant. It was a challenge for her to learn how to swim and it took a long time, nearly two years.
Over the years, the family moved several times to afford Lin the best opportunities for participation. Tali would drive nearly 2,000 miles each month to get Lin to practices. For Lin's brothers and sister, growing up having a sister with special needs was not easy, especially when having friends over. But watching Lin compete changed how they saw her. Today, Special Olympics is a family affair and everyone is involved.
Tali is on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Israel, spearheading fundraising efforts and putting her training as an art therapist to work with athletes. Lin’s dad, an orthodontist, volunteers his time to provide treatments as a part of the Healthy Athletes program. Older brother Tom helps out with graphic design, while sister Or gives speeches to raise awareness about intellectual disabilities. Youngest brother Omer volunteers and cheers at the competitions.
One of the most unforgettable moments for Tali was watching her daughter play table tennis doubles, an event that requires great coordination and quick reaction, areas that are especially challenging for Lin. "I couldn’t believe my eyes. Is this my daughter? Some moments you never forget." Later Tali was chosen to award medals – and got to personally bestow her daughter with a medal.
Special Olympics has given Lin confidence, independence and friends. Lin learned skills and discipline, now is even holding a job. Today, she plays four sports and lives independently. As for Tali, she describes her daughter as a present, helping the family focus on what is important and making Tali "a better person."