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November 02, 2013 | North America: Kansas

Kansas Special Olympics: An Athlete's Story

By Susan McCabe

Jack, left, and his twin Matt

Jack and his twin Matt bonded before their birth in 2001. Jack's bold confidence brought him into the world at 2:22 a.m., Matt came along at 2:24 and at 2:26 the joy of a twin delivery was interrupted by the announcement that Jack had Down syndrome. The upbeat mood came to a halt; was that the signal for a lifetime of despair? 

Jump ahead 12 years and nothing could be farther from the truth. Jack, a thriving 7th grader,i s surrounded by friends, a special education team and a network of Special Olympics athletes, coaches and volunteers. At times, Jack and Matt work in tandem on extra-curricular activities, while still carving out their own special interests. 

For Jack, Special Olympics has provided him with the foundation he craves for sports and an active social life. His love of soccer, volleyball, track and baseball are fueled through weekly practices and seasonal tournaments. His spirit can best be defined by the grin on his face while carrying the torch at a regional competition.

It's no surprise that Jack's participation in Special Olypmics provides him with a fulfilling life and experiences. But what did come as a surprise was how the organization acted as a magnet to many of those who have touched Jack's life. 

From family and friends, to teachers and church members, Jack has touched their lives and introduced them to the joy of volunteering or contributing to Special Olympics.

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