February 27, 2013 | SOI General: Headquarters

You’ve Changed His Life

By Dawn Kaasa

I was 22 when Kellen was born five weeks prematurely. A doctor told me, “We don’t know for sure, but he might have something called Down syndrome.”

I didn’t even know what that meant. My husband said, “We’re going to hold our little boy and we’ll figure it out.” And we did.

We learned you might have that one moment when you cry because it’s not what you wanted or dreamed about… then it turns out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

And Special Olympics has been a crucial part of that journey. Sports have been the center of our lives with Kellen, his sister Taryn and brother Devin. Thanks to Special Olympics, Kellen didn’t just watch his siblings from the sidelines—he too trained and competed in sports just like they did. And he continues to train and compete, inspiring us all and proving to the world that Special Olympics athletes are strong, agile and able.

Special Olympics has given Kellen the confidence to try for things he might not have tried—and that confidence translates into a steadfast work ethic… just ask the customers at the local grocery store where Kellen works five days a week! I too gained confidence as I learned to fight for Kellen in a school system and world that often settles for less.

About Dawn Kaasa: I am the mother of Kellen Kaasa, Special Olympics athlete.
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