Finding Success On and Off the Ice

For Rory, competing in his first World Games is proof of all he’s achieved through hard work and determination. When his moment in the spotlight comes, he’ll dedicate his performance to the man who inspired him.

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Special Olympics athlete Rory Kinane is practicing hard in preparation for the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in PyeongChang.

Falling Down Is About Getting Back Up

People who see 16-year-old Rory Kinane at the skating rink think he’s a natural on the ice -- but it didn’t start out that way. His coach remembers how Rory would try to run on the ice, like he was running a regular road race. There were slips and falls, but Rory didn’t give up. He’d practice and practice -- until he got it right. Now he pushes on the ice, glides and gets some serious speed behind him. “Rory likes to go fast,” says coach Tappie Dellinger. And that’s a good thing, because that speed and dedication have gotten Rory a spot on Special Olympics’ Team USA for the upcoming World Winter Games. In a few months, he’ll be racing against athletes from all around the world in PyeongChang, South Korea. It’ll be Rory’s first Special Olympics World Games competition and he says he’s “pretty excited.”

Rory’s intellectual disability can make it hard for him to accomplish some things. He learns differently than some people; sometimes it takes him a little longer to figure things out. But Special Olympics has helped him learn discipline and find success, which has also been helping him off the ice. “The skills that he’s learned on the ice help him function in the outside world,” says Tappie, who’s been coaching Rory for 8 years. “He's been gaining confidence, and an ability to adapt to different situations. Rory realizes the Special Olympics oath and is always ‘brave in the attempt.’ " Rory has been doing better in his studies and recently received a “most improved” award at school, among other honors. 


A Shining Light

It was Rory’s dad – a former high school hockey player --- who got him involved in Special Olympics. Father and son were close hockey buddies and did everything together, including working on cars and watching NHL hockey games. Rory’s father passed away just over a year ago and the loss has hit Rory hard.

Rory’s older brother, Zach, is also a Special Olympics athlete and their mom says the program has been a real blessing during this difficult year. “They’ve been distracted in a positive way, gaining skills and self-confidence,” says their mom, Stephany Kinane. “It also keeps them busy – there’s so much going on!” Now a single parent of two children with disabilities, Stephany says Special Olympics has also been a comfort to her, knowing that Rory and Zach are among friends and doing something they love.

Rory has been especially motivated since finding out he’ll be competing at World Winter Games in PyeongChang. The teen knows he’ll be up against older and more experienced skaters, but that just makes him want to practice even more. “I know how much he misses his dad, so this has been a great way to channel his energy,” says Stephany. Rory is dedicating his performance at World Winter Games to his father.

His mom says, “Rory was inspired by his dad in so many things. But with all that Rory has been doing, all his hard work and dedication, he’s really inspiring us.”

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