Help us make a difference!

June 24, 2014 | North America: Missouri

USA Games Brings Athlete Out of His Shell

By Mandi Steward Steward Ballinger

Michael Lunceford receives a gold medal in singles bowling at the USA Games

When we first met Michael Lunceford at SOMO's USA Games Selection Camp in 2013, he barely spoke to his coaches. By the end of the week, he had perked up quite a bit. We decided he would be exactly the kind of person to benefit from the USA Games experience, so we selected him for the bowling team. Because he’s from the same area as head coach Bea Webb, he started practicing regularly with her bowling team, which included fellow Team Mo bowlers Tanya and Tiffany and Unified Partners CJ and Amanda. This really made him more comfortable with everyone, and soon he was interacting and became immersed in the team. At the Games, we saw Michael open up even more. He would joke around with us, help out, and he even climbed the rock wall at Special Olympics Town! On multiple occasions, I saw him talking to his opponents and giving them high fives. Michael earned two gold medals and a 4th place ribbon, but his greatest achievement may have been sharpening his social skills.

About Mandi Steward Steward Ballinger: I've worked for Special Olympics Missouri since 2005. I served as the Sports Manager for the bowling team at the 2014 USA Games.

Do you have a story to Share?

Tell us your story so we can publish it for others to see.


Special Olympics - Become a Fan

Your Donation Helps Transform Lives Through Sports!

Become a Sustaining Partner today - monthly giving is an easy and convenient way to support trainings and competitions all year long.

For a limited time, when you become a Sustaining Partner a generous donor will match your generosity with an additional $50 gift to Special Olympics.