Colin's Gift to His Mom: Inspiration!
Kelli has been a supporter of Special Olympics even before her son was born. Now little Colin is an athlete with the Special Olympics Young Athletes program. He's learning floor hockey as a winter sport, track in the summer -- and inspiring his family and supporters all year-round.
A Wonderful Gift
Kelli laughs when she thinks back to how she first got involved with Special Olympics, back when she was expecting her first baby. It was a cold February day, and she was cheering on the beach as a friend jumped into icy waters at a Special Olympics Polar Plunge fund-raiser. Says Kelli, “It was freezing cold and I thought it was a crazy thing to do – but for a great cause.”
Her baby, Colin, was born a few months later, and the diagnosis of Down syndrome came as a shock. Kelli says she and her husband, Chris, had a lot of adjustments to make. Among other things, she says, they had to cope with the fact that their lives were going to be totally different.
Welcomed with Open Arms
“It was a tough time, but then my best friend – the one who had done the Polar Plunge – said, ‘let’s make a team for Colin – to raise money for Special Olympics!” That first year, there were 30 people on the CAT (Colin Allan Tobin) Crew who raised $30,000 -- and they’ve kept going ever since.
Kelli says she got through that tough time thanks to a lot of support, which included help from the Special Olympics community. “We were surprised by how much we’ve been welcomed by everyone. Special Olympics has been a real community – it’s been so good to be among people who understand. It’s also been a real learning experience.”
Coming Into His Own
Five years later, Kelli now says her life hasn’t turned out to be that different after all. Colin is growing into a funny, strong-willed and independent kid who loves swimming and playing with his 4-year-old sister, Kailey. And he’s already marking his second year in the Special Olympics Young Athletes program, which aims to enhance motor and cognitive development. He's been learning floor hockey as a winter sport and track as a summer sport.
Kelli says it’s been a great experience for Colin – and for her family. “With Special Olympics, there’s this inspirational feeling watching my little athlete and the other little athletes. They work so hard to accomplish things that come so easily to others,” she says. “It’s so inspiring – his efforts and the other kids. It’s so amazing to be part of that.”
She says Special Olympics events are both social and learning experiences for Colin. “And if something seems hard, we still try to push him to continue until he succeeds-- that's what any mom would do with any child."
Now she can look back at what she’s learned since that first tough spring after Colin was born. “I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve learned to slow down – and have a little patience. Colin has shown us how to take life one step at a time – literally.”
Kelli says Colin surprises them every day. And he’s been making a lot of progress in Special Olympics and really enjoys being part of it. “Colin creates his own mold – that’s his gift.”
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